The Buffalo Bills find themselves in the conversation about the NFL’s best teams through the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season. With their first 4-0 start in 12 years, the team has earned that praise. This undefeated start is a bit more impressive than the last one for a few reasons.
For starters, the record of the Bills’ four 2008 opponents—the Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and St. Louis Rams—ended up 16-48. The current vintage has built a 4-0 record against three teams in varying places in the standings, with the New York Jets thought to be the worst team in the league and the Miami Dolphins sitting in the bottom-ten as they begin a rebuild. The Los Angeles Rams are a Super Bowl contender in the NFC, and the Las Vegas Raiders are a competitive squad that will almost certainly be in Wild Card contention come December.
Not only has Buffalo beaten some higher-quality opponents this year, but they’ve done it in a more convincing fashion. While the Bills needed seven forced turnovers in their four victories in 2008 to tip the scales in their favor, this year’s quad is doing it by dominating on the offensive side of the ball. Bills fans are, of course, wary of a collapse (we’ve been burned one too many times!), but there’s something about this group that seems to be brewing something special.
The first ranking we’ll discuss is Nate Davis at USA Today, who has Buffalo ranked No. 8 overall. It’s hard to tell if he’s serious or trolling for clicks at this point thanks to his stubborn insistence on saying that Buffalo is only undefeated because of officials, but he continued to beat the proverbial dead horse this week in his discussion of the squad. He notes that current Bills quarterback Josh Allen will almost certainly finish the 2020 season better than 2008 starter Trent Edwards did.
Mark Maske at the Washington Post has Buffalo ranked No. 6 overall. That’s the lowest ranking of any four-win team so far, and it’s one spot higher than last week. Maske notes the scare Buffalo received in the form of Josh Allen’s shoulder injury, a common theme throughout this week’s roundup. Fortunately for the Bills, Maske notes, Allen did not miss a play.
Matt Williamson at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 5 overall, which is their most common resting place in this week’s power rankings. Williamson has Buffalo right at the bottom of the NFL’s top tier, one spot behind the Seattle Seahawks. He notes that Josh Allen is a “star-in-the-making,” and he references the injury scare, as well. He wrote that, while the score was close and the Raiders made a game of it in the end, Buffalo was the far better team on Sunday.
Marcel Louis-Jacques at ESPN also has Buffalo ranked No. 5 overall, and the theme this week bodes well for Buffalo’s chances at a playoff berth. The ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) gives the Bills a 91.7% chance to make the playoffs. Louis-Jacques complimented the Bills’ “high-octane offense” (When’s the last time we could say that?), and noted that the team’s defense woke up a bit as the game went on against the Raiders this week. If Buffalo’s defense can rise to the level at which it’s played over the last two years and the offense can keep rolling...look out, world.
Dan Hanzus at NFL.com has the Bills ranked No. 4 overall. He also called out the defense, but he did so in noting that the unit has played well below expectations for the majority of this season. He referred to the second half against the Raiders as a “vintage” performance, as the Bills forced a punt and two turnovers in that half of football. I think that’s a bit too complimentary of a unit expected by most to be a top-five squad at worst, however. If the defense can keep up that momentum this week, then perhaps we can start showering them with compliments. Hanzus makes one important note, though, in saying that these Bills are for real because they no longer need their defense to be perfect in order to win games.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! has Buffalo ranked No. 4, which is actually one spot lower than he had them last week. He swapped Buffalo with the Green Bay Packers, who pushed their record to 4-0 with a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. Schwab noted that there is room for improvement, pointing out that Las Vegas had more yards and first downs than Buffalo on Sunday, which would seemingly refute the point that Matt Williamson made about Buffalo being clearly better in the contest.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has the Bills ranked No. 4 overall. He noted that the way Buffalo beat the Raiders on the road is indicative of how good the team is this year. Prisco also wrote that the Bills have a tough contest this week, with another road game against the Tennessee Titans set to play on Sunday so long as the Titans remain clear of any new positive COVID-19 tests.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 4, as well. He writes that Buffalo now has two straight impressive wins after beating the Rams and the Raiders, but that the team will continue to be tested by their difficult upcoming schedule. Iyer specifically mentions the Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, who Buffalo plays on October 11 and October 15, respectively, but the Bills also play the New England Patriots on November 1.
Albert Breer at The MMQB also has Buffalo ranked at No. 4 this week. He writes that “Josh Allen is growing, Stefon Diggs is balling, and Buffalo is pulling on all cylinders now.” He is cautious about stating that the Week 5 contest against Tennessee will take place, since nothing is definitive as of yet. While the lack of new positive tests is a good sign, there are obviously still some hurdles to clear before we can say that the game will definitely take place.
Finally, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk has the Bills at their highest spot this week, ranked No. 3 overall. That trails only the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks. He notes that the team had a scare with Josh Allen’s injury this week, showing skepticism that backup Matt Barkley would be able to carry the offense in Allen’s absence.