The Buffalo Bills had plenty of chances to beat the Tennessee Titans on Monday night, but the Titans had an answer for everything Buffalo tried, pulling out a gritty 34-31 victory in primetime. Entering the week, Buffalo was a presumptive favorite in the AFC. Now, at least according to the power rankings, the Bills have fallen to the second tier of the conference.
We start with Nate Davis at USA Today, who has the Bills ranked No. 8 this week. He writes that Buffalo’s streak of four straight games with at least 35 points came to an end, as did their time as the favorites in the conference. He wrote that Buffalo is the current No. 4 seed in the AFC playoff picture.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network also has Buffalo outside of the top five, as he ranked the Bills at No. 7 overall. He writes that he “still believes that [the Bills have] what it takes to be the best team in the NFL.” However, he also notes that Monday’s effort wasn’t good enough, as the Titans were able to “bully” the Bills all night at the line of scrimmage. Miller focuses on Tennessee’s 6.6 yards per rushing attempt in the game, noting Derrick Henry’s 7.2 yards per carry as particularly troubling, as well. Context matters, though, and Henry gained 76 yards on one big carry, but just 67 yards on his other 19 attempts.
Barry Werner at Yahoo! has Buffalo ranked No. 6, though I think he meant to place them at No. 7 given that his write-up says that the Bills “slip to seventh” this week. Given that the Los Angeles Rams appear as the seventh team, that makes sense, because the 4-2 Bills would then be Werner’s top two-loss squad. The pun is intentional regarding the slide, as quarterback Josh Allen lost his footing on the failed quarterback sneak attempt that was Buffalo’s final offensive play.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News ranked Buffalo No. 3, though he definitely filed his rankings before the game last night was decided. He noted that Buffalo’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t seem like such a huge misstep now since the Bills had defeated the Kansas City Chiefs.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has the Bills ranked No. 7 overall, as well. He asked a question most of us wondered: “What happened to the defense?” He also noted that a huge performance from quarterback Josh Allen (35-of-47, 353 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) couldn’t even bail out a terrible effort from the defense.
The rankers at ESPN have the Bills at No. 2 this week, just one spot below their perch from last week. Coming into the year, the Worldwide Leader had a confidence rating of 6.3 in the Bills, and even with last night’s loss, Alaina Getzenberg writes that the confidence meter is trending up—Buffalo’s confidence rating sits at 7.8 right now. Getzenberg notes that there were issues that cropped up against the Titans, but the Bills are a team that evolves and learns from their mistakes. She writes that Buffalo has a high enough ceiling where they could be not only the best team in the AFC, but in the NFL.
Finally, Dan Hanzus at NFL.com also has the Bills at No. 2 in spite of the loss last night. He writes that head coach Sean McDermott may receive criticism for electing to go for it on 4th & INCHES from Tennessee’s three-yard line, but he also thinks that McDermott made the right call given Buffalo’s success in those situations more often than not. Hanzus closes by writing that the outcome may have been regrettable, but the Bills can take solace in knowing that this is a game they win nine times out of ten. That theory works great in the multiverse, but for now, the Bills must deal with the fact that they lost an eminently winnable contest, one that could have huge playoff implications down the line.