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Buffalo Bills win big, still fall in some Week 17 NFL power rankings

The Bills are right around the same spot, but they fell in a list or two—and rose in a big way in one

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills completely dismantled an overmatched New England Patriots squad last night, winning 38-9 in Gillette Stadium, a place where Buffalo has struggled mightily this century. The Bills have won 12 games for the first time since 1993, have swept the Patriots for the first time since 1999, and have barged into the conversation about what team is the best in the NFL.

With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that the Bills are ranked among the top tier of NFL teams in each set of Week 17 NFL power rankings. What is a bit surprising is that after a second consecutive blowout victory on the road, and a fourth straight big victory in a primetime game, the Bills actually fell a bit in some ranking sets. The Bills were ranked no lower than third last week, and this week, they find themselves ranked no lower than fourth.

We’ll start with Gary Gramling, whom The MMQB has tasked with writing up their power rankings. That’s the list where the Bills come in at No. 4, as the New Orleans Saints leapfrogged them on the strength of a 52-33 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. About Buffalo, Gramling writes that the Bills’ coronation as AFC East champions became real after last night’s “pantsing” of the Patriots on national television.

The Bills fell one spot in ESPN’s power rankings, as well, as the Green Bay Packers passed them to knock Buffalo down to No. 3. Marcel Louis-Jacques wrote that the Bills’ New Year’s resolution should be to become “comfortable with a target on their backs.” Buffalo can no longer play the role of plucky underdogs, as they’re averaging 35 points per game on offense since Week 9 and are a fluke Hail Mary away from a nine-game win streak. Louis-Jacques notes that the Bills are “doing almost everything well as the regular season rounds out,” and I can’t disagree.

Pete Prisco at CBS Sports kept the Bills at No. 3 this week, right behind Green Bay and right in front of the Seattle Seahawks. Prisco wrote that the Bills’ offense “will carry them a long way in the postseason,” which is something we haven’t truly been able to say about a Buffalo team since the early ‘90s. Prisco added that Josh Allen is playing at “a high level,” which is one of the largest understatements possible given the capital-E-Elite ball Buffalo’s franchise signal-caller has been playing this season.

Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News also kept Buffalo in the No. 3 spot, and he also had Green Bay one ahead and Seattle one behind. Iyer notes that, while it’s great that Buffalo has clinched the division, they need to “tune up so that they position themselves well between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers to stay longer in the playoffs with Josh Allen.” Buffalo outclassed the Steelers on Sunday Night Football in Week 14, allowing just 224 total yards in a 26-15 victory. The Bills can clinch the No. 2 seed in the AFC with a win or Steelers loss this week.

Matt Williamson at Pro Football Network also kept Buffalo in the No. 3 spot behind Kansas City and Green Bay, though he has the Saints at No. 4 instead of Seattle. Williamson writes that Buffalo’s offense is “humming as well as any in the league right now and Buffalo’s defense continues to get better late in the regular season.” He notes that if not for the [name that I refuse to use for that play] didn’t happen against the Arizona Cardinals, that the Bills would be on a nine-game win streak. Williamson also writes that the Bills are “capable of winning the entire thing this year.”

Josh Schrock at NBC Sports has Buffalo at No. 2 this week, writing that Buffalo’s offense went into Gillette Stadium and “cut through Bill Belichick’s defense like a hot knife through butter.” During the opening drive of the second half, it really did look like Buffalo was just toying with the Patriots, as Josh Allen was able to do whatever he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it. Schrock adds that Josh Allen “might be the only thing standing between Patrick Mahomes and another Super Bowl title.”

Frank Schwab at Yahoo! sports also has the Bills ranked No. 2 this week. Schwab is among the many who are discussing the excitement for what could be a Bills-Chiefs AFC Championship game. If it happens, it would be the third time the teams have met in a league championship game in each franchise’s history—the Chiefs defeated two-time defending champion Buffalo in the 1966 AFL title game, winning 31-7 to earn the right to appear in Super Bowl I. The Bills clobbered the Chiefs in the 1993 AFC Championship game, winning 30-13 en route to their fourth consecutive Super Bowl.

Dan Hanzus at NFL.com has the Bills at No. 2 again this week. He wrote that the Bills “walk[ed] into Gillette Stadium like they owned the place and strutt[ed] out with a 38-9 win over the helpless Patriots.” What a beautiful, glorious sentence that is to read. Anyhow, Hanzus also touted Josh Allen as an MVP candidate, noting that if people aren’t considering Allen in the same conversation as Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, then they aren’t paying enough attention to the Bills this year.

Finally, this week’s pièce de résistance comes at Pro Football Talk, where Mike Florio lists Buffalo at No. 1 in his rankings. He notes that four consecutive victories in impressive fashion in nationally-televised games proves that the Bills are ready to roll heading into the playoffs.