After defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football this week, the Buffalo Bills clinched a playoff spot. In the eyes of many, they also legitimized their record, as most analysts who have only watched the team from afar have noted that it is built on the destruction of poor teams.
With a second big road win in three weeks, this one against an AFC North foe, I expected that the Bills would move up a good bit in most power rankings. Based on a quick scan of our usual sources, it appears that I thought wrong.
Doug Farrar at Touchdown Wire held Buffalo at No. 7 this week, one spot ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs. He heaped praise on the team in his write-up, noting that the “small-market” Bills are now receiving the attention they’ve deserved all year. Farrar writes, “Head coach Sean McDermott should be Coach of the Year, general manager Brandon Beane should be Executive of the Year, and Josh Allen is the most underrated quarterback in the league.” He also thinks that the Bills can “do some damage” once the playoffs begin.
Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports has Buffalo at No. 8, up one spot from last week’s ranking. He didn’t have anything to say about the actual team, instead choosing to shout out the fans that met the team at the airport after Sunday’s 17-10 victory. “Hundreds of Bills fans prioritized turning up at the airport over sleep,” Maiocco wrote, adding, “That’s Buffalo, people.” You’re damn right it is.
Nate Davis at USA Today has the Bills ranked No. 10, up one spot from last week’s ranking. His blurb gives some love to four of Buffalo’s “emerging players”—quarterback Josh Allen, cornerback Tre’Davious White, wide receiver Smokey Brown (John Brown’s foray into forest fire prevention, I assume?), and running back Devin Singletary. In the words of the late, great Caroll Spinney, “one of these things is not like the others,” as John Brown had absolutely emerged prior to this year. While the Bills may be using him differently and to greater success than his previous teams, the 29-year old Brown is already an established threat in the league.
Pete Prisco has been all over the Bills this year, but even he left them in the same spot for the CBS Sports power rankings this week. Prisco has Buffalo at No. 9, sandwiched between the Minnesota Vikings and the Houston Texans. Prisco notes that the team is in the playoffs, “which not many saw coming” (I guess Pete didn’t read our staff predictions from this year!). He also shouts out Buffalo’s impressive defense, then finishes by asking the question on everyone’s mind—can the Bills defeat the New England Patriots this week? We’ll know the answer to that question around 7:30 p.m. EST Saturday evening.
ESPN gave Buffalo a small boost, moving up one spot to No. 9 this week. Marcel Louis-Jacques said that the two words that should define Buffalo’s offseason are “more playmakers.” He writes that Buffalo has reached the ten-win plateau on “the strength of an elite defense that often carried a sputtering offense.” Adding to Josh Allen’s cadre of weapons should be the offseason priority, and with at least $90 million in salary-cap space, Louis-Jacques thinks that Buffalo can do it while also paying young studs like Matt Milano, Dion Dawkins, and Tre’Davious White, along with veteran safety Jordan Poyer.
Mark Maske at the Washington Post ranks Buffalo No. 9 this week, and he also uses one of my least favorite lines to describe the team qualifying for the playoffs. He notes that the Bills have qualified for the playoffs “for the second time this century,” which is true, of course. It is also unnecessarily over-dramatic, as the Bills have qualified for the playoffs twice in three years. He writes that Buffalo’s “rugged” defense will give Tom Brady and the New England Patriots a problem this Saturday.
Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 8 this week, up one spot from their previous ranking. He called Buffalo’s win over Pittsburgh “the most impressive victory of their breakout season” thanks to the dominant defensive effort. He thinks that the team has what it takes to win in the playoffs. I agree.
Zach Buckley at Bleacher Report doesn’t give any sort of write-up about the Bills, but he has them ranked No. 9 this week. Included within the article is every team’s Super Bowl odds, and the Bills are currently at +3500 at Caesar’s Sportsbook (the article lists them at +3000, but the odds have shifted since then). A $100 bet could net Bills fans $3,500...not bad at all!
Finally, Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has Buffalo ranked No. 9 overall, up two spots from their place last week. He starts with a backhanded compliment, noting that the Bills have taken “full advantage of a weak schedule,” but moves on to note how impressive their victory at Pittsburgh was. He writes that the Bills have relied upon “a very good defense” and “an offense that generally manages to avoid critical mistakes.”