The Buffalo Bills began the year as the favorites to win the AFC East Division. With Tom Brady having left the division, the Bills were the most likely challenger to the New England Patriots’ dynasty. After fending off a strong challenge from the upstart Miami Dolphins, the Bills fulfilled that expectation and won their first division title since the 1995 season.
What most people didn’t expect, however, was that the Bills would entirely bypass the “scrappy upstart” phase and rocket right into the stratosphere of the elite. Thanks to a rapidly solidifying defense and an elite offense, Buffalo has done just that heading into the playoffs. Not only are the Bills thought of as a top team in the AFC, but there are some who believe that the Bills are the team best positioned to knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
For Bills fans haunted by years of great expectations torpedoed by painful losses (a field goal pushed wide to the right, a misplaced helmet, a nine-turnover blowout, a disappearing act after halftime, a knee that was down, a strip-sack, a forward pass on a kick return, a loss to third stringers, a call where “common sense prevailed”...I’m sure I’m missing some), this transition from the hunter to the hunted is nerve-wracking. The best part about this group of Buffalo players, though, is that they exist in a state that is entirely unencumbered by the past. Sorry, they just make plays.
That confidence is expressed succinctly by Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune, who ranks Buffalo No. 2 this week. Biggs writes that the Bills are the hottest team in the NFL as the playoffs begin, and I can’t disagree with him. Buffalo has won each of their post-bye week games, a 6-0 stretch that has seen them outscore their opponents 229-110.
Matt Williamson at Pro Football Network has the Bills ranked No. 2, as well. He notes that Josh Allen helped the Bills to jump all over the Dolphins, as the Bills scored four second-quarter touchdowns to take a 28-6 halftime lead in the regular-season finale. Williamson wrote that the Bills allowed “a lot of yardage at the end of the day,” though much of it came once the game was no longer in doubt. What he doesn’t mention is that most of that yardage came with reserves in the lineup playing against Miami’s starting offense.
Justin Leger at NBC Sports also has Buffalo ranked No. 2. He notes that the Bills finished red-hot by trouncing the Dolphins in the last game of the regular season, adding that the Bills had the added glee of eliminating their division rival from the postseason. He also mentioned Allen’s three passing touchdowns, all of which came in the first half.
Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News took a slightly different approach this week, ranking the playoff teams only by their chances of making the Super Bowl. He ranked Buffalo No. 5 there—not because he felt that the three NFC teams (the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively) are better than Buffalo, but because he feels that those teams have better odds of making the Super Bowl than the Bills, who have the Chiefs waiting for them if they advance. Iyer thinks Buffalo can outscore Kansas City if necessary, but he is worried that the Bills won’t be able to keep the Chiefs’ offense from exploiting holes in the run game like they did during Kansas City’s 26-17 victory in October.
The crew at The MMQB have Buffalo ranked No. 3 this week, just three points behind Green Bay in their poll. The staff notes that the Bills swept the AFC East for the first time in franchise history on the way to tying a franchise record in victories for a single season. They end by noting that the Bills have their eyes on even bigger goals in the postseason.
Nate Davis at USA Today also has Buffalo ranked No. 3, and he calls the Bills the league’s hottest team. He writes that Buffalo’s average margin of victory over the last six games is nearly three touchdowns. He also writes that the Bills are “arguably” the league’s best team.
Pete Prisco has Buffalo at No. 3, as well, and the Bills are one of eight teams that began in Prisco’s top ten who stayed there. He writes that Josh Allen “will be a tough out,” which always feels like a backhanded compliment when discussing a team or a player. Prisco writes that the Bills are playing the best football of any team in the league as the playoffs begin.
Finally, Danny Kelly at The Ringer has the Bills ranked No. 2, calling them the top challenger to the Chiefs. The whole writeup is worth a read, but the conclusion is pretty phenomenal. Kelly writes that “thanks to the triumvirate of Allen, Diggs, and [offensive coordinator Brian] Daboll,” the Bills are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They might have a longer row to hoe thanks to that pesky super team in Kansas City, but he also thinks that Buffalo has a tough task in beating the Indianapolis Colts, whose defense ranked No. 7 in DVOA this year.