The Buffalo Bills continued their outstanding 2020 season with a blowout victory over the Denver Broncos on Saturday. That 48-19 victory clinched Buffalo’s third playoff berth in four years, and the team’s first AFC East Division title since 1995. Simply put, the Bills are among the league’s best teams right now.
It’s not only Bills fans who notice this now, as folks all over the NFL world are realizing that Buffalo is a legitimate contender. While the team has at times shown peaks where they’ve hinted at this level of success, the Bills haven’t truly found themselves in this echelon of the league since Y2K was a thing.
Thanks to their solid play, Buffalo really only finds themselves ranked in two places this week: They’re either second or third. By old-school playground logic, if first is indeed the worst, then second is the best...and currently, Buffalo is “the best” more often than not.
We’ll start our roundup where Buffalo would have “a hairy chest,” as the Bills come in at the No. 3 spot in The Sporting News rankings. Vinnie Iyer writes that Buffalo has “developed as the best AFC threat to the [Kansas City] Chiefs,” who are universally ranked No. 1 this week. The Bills lost to the Chiefs earlier this year in a 26-17 decision. Iyer writes that Buffalo is “locked in offensively because of Josh Allen doing everything well again.” Buffalo’s third-year quarterback is in the the midst of the best quarterback season in franchise history, one that could end in an MVP nod.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports also has Buffalo ranked No. 3 this week, behind the Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers, respectively. Prisco notes that the Bills are “flying high on offense now,” and then he concludes by saying that the team has clinched its first division title since...1996. Oops. We can forgive him, though. Not only is he a human capable of making typos just like all of us, but he’s also been aboard the Josh Allen train since last year.
ESPN’s panel of experts has Buffalo ranked at the No. 2 spot. Marcel Louis-Jacques was tasked with writing about Buffalo’s most underrated star, and he chose Cole Beasley. Josh Allen’s safety blanket in the slot is having a career year just one season after having, well, a career year. Last year, Beasley set career highs in targets (106), yards per catch (11.6), and touchdowns (6). He had 67 catches for 778 yards, both of which were good for second-best in his career. Through 14 games this year, Beasley is on pace for more targets (102 already), and he has already set career highs in catches (78) and receiving yards (950). He has four touchdowns on the year. While Beasley is a great choice, I’m going to give safety Jordan Poyer a little love, too, as he is one of the league’s top overall defensive players, and he is currently top-ten in tackles with 85 solo and 117 combined.
Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated was tasked with writing up the rankings that the group at The MMQB determined, and they have Buffalo at No. 2, as well. Breer wrote that Josh Allen “is all grown up,” as are his Bills’ teammates. He attributes Buffalo’s success to “four years of building,” referring to the Bills as “Kansas City’s long-term foil in the conference.”
My favorite capsule comes from Josh Schrock at NBC Sports, who has Buffalo ranked No. 2, as well. His writeup was short and sweet: “If we don’t get Josh Allen vs. Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs we riot.” While I agree from an entertainment standpoint, I don’t want to see that matchup until the AFC Championship Game, which is why Buffalo grabbing the No. 2 seed in the conference is important.
Matt Williamson at Pro Football Network has Buffalo at No. 2 this week, as well. His writeup had a bit more detail to it, as he mentioned Jerry Hughes and his impressive fumble return touchdown in addition to Josh Allen and his high level of play so far. He also had praise for Buffalo’s defense, which he said has “really improved” as of late. That’s a bit of an understatement, as the Bills allowed an average of 26.5 points per game prior to the bye, and have allowed an average of 18.8 points per game since. That’s a huge development for a team with an offense averaging a cool 29.1 points per game, good for fifth in the league this year.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! has Buffalo ranked in the No. 2 slot, and he’s sure to note that it’s not because Green Bay was unimpressive in their 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers. Schwab writes that Buffalo moved up to the second spot because Buffalo has continued to improve as the season has progressed. He also wrote that the Bills are “an impressive team without one bad loss all season.” I can’t say that I agree, as that 42-16 drubbing at the hands of the Tennessee Titans back in October was most certainly a bad loss, but it also feels like it was a lifetime ago. Whether that’s due to the time warp that has been 2020 or Buffalo’s overall improvement is up for debate.
Dan Hanzus at NFL.com also has Buffalo at No. 2, and he had plenty of positives to write about the team. He notes that “Wonderwall” was on the charts the last time Buffalo won a division title, so maybe this team is gonna be the one that saves us all in 2020. Hanzus writes that Buffalo “announced themselves as AFC East champions with authority, bludgeoning the Broncos” on Saturday. He notes that Cole Beasley and Stefon Diggs are set to join Eric Moulds and Peerless Price as the only pair of Bills’ receivers to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in the same season. He compares the Bills to “a rising tidal wave headed for the great wall that is the Kansas City Chiefs.” By now, the Bills have absolutely realized what they’ve got to do, as the Road to Tampa Bay and Super Bowl LV almost certainly runs through Arrowhead Stadium.
Finally, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk also has the Bills in the No. 2 slot. In his writeup about the No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs, Florio notes that in a gambling scenario where it’s “Chiefs vs. The Field” to win the Super Bowl, most people would bet on Kansas City to capture their second consecutive Lombardi Trophy. In his capsule about the Bills, Florio writes, “If anyone from The Field is going to beat the Chiefs, it’s the Bills.” At this point, that’s about the highest praise any team can garner.