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Buffalo Bills stand pat in Week 17 NFL power rankings

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Buffalo neither rose nor fell after losing a close one at New England

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Entering play on Saturday, the Buffalo Bills were ranked in the top ten in nearly all major power rankings. After a 24-17 loss to the New England Patriots where Buffalo held a lead deep into the fourth quarter, they remain in a similar position.

In the spirit of the holidays and the NFL’s final regular-season week, it seems that some of our favorite power rankings sources have done what the Bills may do this week—they’ve rested their starters and gone to some intriguing reserves to finish out the year. While the writers may be a little different, the rankings stayed mostly the same.

We’ll start off with the Washington Post, where Mark Maske has the Bills ranked No. 10 this week, one spot below their previous ranking. He noted that Buffalo “certainly had their chance” to beat New England on Saturday, which is the most frustrating part about the loss for Bills’ fans. He went on to write that Buffalo “doesn’t appear quite ready to be an upper-tier team, at least not yet.”

ESPN held Buffalo firmly in place at No. 9 overall this week. Marcel Louis-Jacques was tasked with writing about the player he believes is Buffalo’s team MVP. Louis-Jacques picked cornerback Tre’Davious White, calling the gregarious defensive back the “clear-cut best player” on a team that “seems greater than the sum of its parts.” Louis-Jacques speculates that White, who is the only corner in the league who has not allowed a touchdown in coverage this season, will reset the market at his position when his contract comes due, noting that the Bills have the right to exercise the fifth-year option on White’s rookie contract this spring, which they almost certainly will choose to do.

Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo at No. 9, as well, which is one spot higher than they were last week. After losing in embarrassing fashion to the Green Bay Packers, Davis dropped the Minnesota Vikings from seventh to tenth, hence Buffalo’s move up the list. Davis writes that there is an argument to be made that Buffalo has the league’s best secondary, and while the team allowed veteran Tom Brady to carve that secondary up via short, quick passes on Saturday, one outlier against arguably the greatest player to ever play the quarterback position doesn’t make Davis’s observation untrue.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune kept Buffalo at No. 9 overall this week. He wrote that quarterback Josh Allen “made one big throw, a 53-yard connection with John Brown for a touchdown when he was under duress, but otherwise he struggled throughout the game against the Patriots defense.” I’d argue that Allen made three big throws (the bomb to Brown, the dime to tight end Dawson Knox at the end of the first half, and the ridiculous off-balance strike to Cole Beasley that set up first-and-goal on the game’s final drive), but I otherwise agree with the assertion that Allen struggled against the AFC’s top pass defense in terms of yards allowed per game. While those big throws were obviously impressive, beating the Patriots requires sustained drives, and Allen missed too many “gimme” throws to keep the Pats’ offense on the sideline.

Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News kept the Bills at No. 8 this week, giving credit to head coach Sean McDermott and his staff for putting together “a strong playoff team while still learning how to win.” His assessment of the New England game is a familiar one, as well, as he wrote that the Bills “fought hard and played well, but for a second time this season, they couldn’t generate enough offense and made the greater mistakes.” While the “greater mistakes” involved turnovers in September's meeting, those mistakes were more subtle this time—missed blocks, missed throws, missed coverages, etc.—that New England took advantage of time and again.

In keeping with their standard, Kristopher Knox at Bleacher Report doesn’t have a full write-up on every team, and this week there is nothing written specifically about Buffalo. Knox has the Bills at No. 7 overall, which is as high as the team is ranked this week. He does provide record projections for every team, and he sees the Bills defeating the New York Jets this week to win their 11th game of the season, something they haven’t done since 1999.

Pat Yasinskas subs in for Doug Farrar at Touchdown Wire, ranking the Bills No. 8 overall, or right at the bottom of the league’s top tier. While he starts with a caveat—”There’s no such thing as a good loss”—Yasinskas goes on to write about all of the positives that came from Saturday’s loss at New England. In no particular order, he writes about Josh Allen’s play-making ability, calls the Bills a dangerous team, and compliments the work of general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott in building a roster that should be good for quite some time. While he calls New England the “kings” of the division, he names the Bills as princes who are nearly ready to overthrow the king.

Finally, Scott Bair subs in for Matt Maiocco at NBC Sports, ranking the Bills at No. 9 overall, one spot lower than they were ranked last week. Bair writes that the Patriots “own” the Bills, adding that “little brother’s best chance to beat their nemesis went by the wayside Saturday night.” The “little brother” analogy isn’t one Bills fans want to hear, but it’s understandable given New England’s dominance over Buffalo for the better part of the last twenty years. Bair concludes by writing that the Bills are “still a team to be respected and feared in the playoffs.”

That does it for a holiday edition of our power rankings roundup—whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Festivus, something else entirely, or nothing at all, thanks for celebrating your Bills fandom with us. Happy holidays to all!