After defeating the Seattle Seahawks 44-34 last week, the Buffalo Bills are riding high in the AFC East. While their nearest competition, the Miami Dolphins, also secured a big victory over an NFC West opponent, the Bills maintain a 2.5-game lead over Miami.
While the Bills have been ranked in the top ten fairly consistently this year in the NFL power rankings, they haven’t crept towards the upper tier of most rankings since their hot start in September. After consecutive losses to the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo followed with two straight iffy wins over inferior divisional opponents. A convincing victory over one of the NFC’s best teams has vaulted Buffalo closer to the top five than they’ve been since September.
We start with Dan Hanzus at NFL.com, who has Buffalo ranked No. 6 this week. Hanzus notes that quarterback Josh Allen “busted out of his slump in a big way on Sunday” in throwing for 415 yards and accounting for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Side note: Isn’t it wild that Allen’s four-game stretch from Week 5 to Week 8, where he completed 63% of his passes for 846 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions, now qualifies as a slump? Hanzus noted how Buffalo’s blitz-heavy defense was able to harass Russell Wilson into four turnovers, and he compliments Allen for outplaying the MVP candidate.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has Buffalo at No. 5 this week. He also praised Allen, who he said was able to show that his early season success was not a fluke by dominating an awful Seattle pass defense. Prisco notes that Buffalo’s defense still has “issues,” and while nobody wants to give up 34 pints in a game, it’s worth noting that the Seahawks average exactly 34 points per game this season, so Buffalo was able to keep Seattle to its own average.
Mark Maske of The Washington Post has the Bills at No. 5, as well. In what is a common theme this week, he praised Buffalo’s explosive offense, though he did take care to note that Seattle’s defense may have contributed to some of Buffalo’s success. He notes that it looks like a two-team race for the AFC East Divisional title between Buffalo and Miami, a sentence that hasn’t been true since the 1990s.
Marcel Louis-Jacques at ESPN has the Bills at No. 6 this week. The weekly theme for ESPN’s power rankings is to recalibrate each team’s expectations for the 2020 season, and Louis-Jacques thinks that Buffalo should strive not only to win the division, but to win a playoff game. Neither of those things has happened since 1995, so they’d obviously be huge leaps forward for a franchise that spent much of the first two decades of the 21st century in the purgatory of too bad to win but too good to bottom out. Louis-Jacques felt that Buffalo’s defense dominated Seattle on Sunday, which is odd considering that they still managed 34 points. However, four turnovers is a big deal and, as we said above, Seattle’s offense is the best-scoring offense in the league right now, so they were going to score. Kudos to the Bills for playing as well as they did.
Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News has Buffalo at No. 6 this week. He also notes Buffalo’s impressive offense, saying that the team needed it to feel great about both Josh Allen and the offense as a whole again. He notes that the big plays made by the defense are a great sign, as well.
Nick Goss at NBC Sports has Buffalo ranked No. 4, which is as high in the ranks as the Bills appear this week. Goss notes that this is the latest in a season that Buffalo has been in first place in the division since 1996—that was Jim Kelly’s final season—and that Buffalo is over an 80% favorite to finish atop the division, per ESPN’s FPI. He called the victory Buffalo’s first signature win of the 2020 season.
Matt Williamson at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 7, which is as low as the team is ranked this week. It’s also two full spots lower than the Seattle team that Buffalo just beat on Sunday. Williamson writes that Josh Allen was clearly the best player on the field on Sunday, and he calls the AFC East a division that “belongs to Buffalo.” He gives praise to Stefon Diggs and John Brown, as well, who combined for well over 200 receiving yards. Williamson thought it was most impressive how the Bills were able to slow Russell Wilson.
Finally, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has Buffalo ranked No. 6, which is one spot ahead of Seattle this week. He writes that the Bills “may be moving from Tier 2 to Tier 1 in the AFC.” Of the Seahawks, he writes that they “may be moving from Tier 1 to Tier 2 in the NFC.” In a year full of changes, it should come as no surprise that the winds are blowing differently in the NFL landscape.