The Buffalo Bills are 4-1 through five weeks, and they are tied for the second-best record in the AFC heading into their bye week. While this alone would seem to ensure respect, it hasn’t—Buffalo’s soft schedule has led some pundits to bemoan their lack of “quality” competition.
Maybe the Bills will schedule some more SEC teams next year, but the fact remains that this year, they were handed a schedule and, thus far, they have done exactly what they were supposed to do: win. The team’s only loss was a 16-10 defeat at the hands of the undefeated New England Patriots, who have won their other four contests by an average score of 35-6.
Over at The Washington Post, Buffalo finds itself ranked in the top ten, which is a common theme across most of this week’s power rankings. Mark Maske ranks Buffalo No. 8, a four-spot jump following last week. He acknowledged that Buffalo was fortunate this weekend, as Tennessee Titans (now former) kicker Cairo Santos missed on four field goals in a 14-7 Bills win. Maske said that “being lucky is part of being good in the NFL, and the Bills continue to make the case that they’re for real.”
ESPN has Buffalo a bit lower, but at No. 10, the Bills are still in a good place given their success this season. The weekly theme at the Worldwide Leader is “surprise fantasy player,” and Marcel Louis-Jacques says that Buffalo’s is the ageless Frank Gore. In the last three games, Gore has averaged 82 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per carry, Louis-Jacques writes. While he speculates that Gore probably won’t hit the 1,066 rushing yards he’s currently on pace for with rookie Devin Singletary set to return after the bye, he does note that Gore has been a sneaky-good add in both real and fantasy football this season.
Bleacher Report has Buffalo at No. 11, behind a quartet of three-win teams in the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, and Baltimore Ravens. They note that it’s “tough to be in the same division as the Patriots” (thanks, Captain Obvious), adding that it could be part of the reason Buffalo is being overlooked this season. They contend that, if Buffalo “wins the games it’s supposed to, there’s a strong chance it could have eight or nine victories by the end of November, which would put it in a great position to make the playoffs for only the second time this millennium.”
The highest rankings come from both CBS and NBC this week, as both outlets have Buffalo at No. 7 overall. Pete Prisco at CBS Sports says that Buffalo has “that playoff feel about them.” He credits the excellent defense as one of the major reasons why, saying that the stop unit will keep Buffalo competitive in most games. Matt Maiocco at NBC Sports spotlights Frank Gore, noting that veteran now is one of only two running backs (the other being Hall of Fame legend Emmitt Smith) to amass 200 career starts.
The lowest Bills’ ranking comes from Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News, as the team comes in at No. 12 this week. Noting that Buffalo’s defense nearly led them to a victory over the Patriots before winning “an expected war of attrition” against Tennessee, he also wants Bills fans to imagine a world in where the team can “get Josh Allen cranking as a passer.” If that were to happen, perhaps the team would rank higher than the 3-2 Ravens or the 3-2 Minnesota Vikings.