The Buffalo Bills are one of seven teams with a 3-0 record, and one of eight teams that have yet to lose on the season (the Detroit Lions are 2-0-1). Even after a third straight outstanding defensive showing, the Bills aren’t convincing the authors of national power rankings that they’re for real quite yet.
The Bills moved up in most power rankings this week, as would be expected after a victory. However, there is at least one publication where they moved back in the rankings. While a sleepy second half against the Cincinnati Bengals turned a 14-0 lead into a 17-14 deficit, the Bills still pulled out the victory. Perhaps there’s still a little disrespect coloring national pundits’ judgment of the team?
Over at the Washington Post, Buffalo checks in at No. 9, immediately behind three teams whose records sit at 2-1 in the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, and Houston Texans. Rather than focus on what the Bills have done to date, Mark Maske focuses on what is to come in Buffalo’s schedule—a Week 4 showdown with the New England Patriots. He writes that this weekend’s game, which will determine which team leaves September in first place in the AFC East Division, “will either provide a sobering reality check for the Bills and their fans or the ultimate boost to their confidence in a rebuilding program that is on fast-forward.”
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports ranks Buffalo at No. 7, with the Minnesota Vikings representing the only team ahead of them with a loss. Schwab says that wins over the New York Giants, New York Jets, and Cincinnati Bengals are nothing to be terribly excited about, as those teams are a missed chip-shot field goal away from being a combined 0-9 instead of 1-8. The Bills can’t control their opponents, however. They can only control how they play against them, and as Schwab adds, “3-0 looks pretty nice.”
The Sporting News lists Buffalo at No. 10, behind the one-loss Vikings, Ravens, and New Orleans Saints. Continuing a common thread, Vinnie Iyer writes that the Bills have a chance to prove that their 3-0 start is legit with the Patriots coming into town. Iyer also notes a reason why many in the national media may be skeptical of Buffalo’s start, as the last time they started 3-0 was 2011—a season where the Bills lost ten of their final 13 games to finish 6-10.
Over at ESPN, the Bills come in at No. 12, one of three teams without a loss to fall outside of the top ten (the San Francisco 49ers at No. 11, and the Detroit Lions are No. 13). Their theme of the week involves incorrect preseason predictions and, for Buffalo, they revisited their claim that Tommy Sweeney would be the team’s top tight end. Marcel Louis-Jacques notes that he isn’t knocking Sweeney, but instead is heaping high praise on fellow rookie Dawson Knox, whom he says has flashed “Travis Kelce-like ability” thus far.
Buffalo also ranks twelfth at USA Today, but this ranking is more significant in that they are actually lower than they were last week. After sitting at tenth through two wins, the Bills added one more and fell two spots. Nate Davis gives no explanation as to why, but he did have an interesting nugget about Buffalo’s last 3-0 start: “Last time they were 3-0 was 2011 ... which, coincidentally, was last time they beat New England when Tom Brady played four quarters. Game on.”
In perhaps the most absurd ranking of the week, Bleacher Report has Buffalo at No. 15 this week, a full three spots behind the next lowest three-win team (San Francisco), and one spot behind the 1-2 Philadelphia Eagles. If that’s not enough to make even the most level-headed Bills fan angry, the first lines of Gary Davenport’s write-up will do the trick: “The Bills are undefeated. That’s not generally a phrase that’s accurate past, say, Week 1 or so.” He notes the team’s weak schedule as a reason for his skepticism.
Matt Maiocco at NBC Sports has Buffalo ranked tenth overall, up two spots from their Week 3 placement. His line is a funny one regarding ageless veteran running back Frank Gore. “Frank Gore celebrates Week 3 of the NFL’s 100th season with a game-winning TD run -- just like he did in Week 3 of 1920.” Hopefully, the
53-year old 35-year old Gore can continue defying Father Time this week.
The highest placement for the Bills in this week’s power rankings comes in our final two publications. Dan Hanzus of NFL.com bumped Buffalo all the way to No. 6 this week, representing a six-spot jump from last week. He was particularly impressed with Dawson Knox, noting the rookie tight end’s first NFL touchdown and bruising run to help set up the game-winning touchdown plunge from Gore. Hanzus compared Knox to Rob Gronkowski twice in his write up, adding, “ This is the biggest Bills game in a long time. Circle them wagons!”
Finally, CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco had tons of praise for Buffalo, as well, ranking them No. 6 this week. The entire lead-in is worth reading, as he focuses on the strides Josh Allen has made combined with Buffalo’s bone-crunching defense. He also throws head coach Sean McDermott’s name into the discussion for Coach of the Year, saying that a victory on Sunday would make him the early front-runner for the honor.