The Buffalo Bills are 5-2 with a two-game lead in the loss column over the New England Patriots in the AFC East. In terms of conference seeding, they slot in as the No. 4 at present, as their conference record is currently worse than the Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens. Obviously, there is plenty of time for that to change.
Given that the Bills are fourth in the AFC and most prognosticators think the AFC is weaker than the NFC this year, it’s no surprise that Buffalo finds itself in myriad places in this week’s power rankings. The spread between Buffalo’s top ranking and its lowest ranking is five, which is a pretty wide gap.
We start with that lowest ranking, as Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 7 overall. He called Buffalo’s victory over the Miami Dolphins a “second walkover” of their divisional rivals, though he added that the game was “a bit of a grind until the second half.” That’s putting mildly how the first half appeared, as Buffalo struggled to do anything against an inferior Miami club. Iyer writes that Buffalo’s defense “continues to dominate in spite of some lapses,” adding that the defensive play has taken pressure off the Bills’ offense this year.
ESPN ranked the Bills No. 6, which is actually one spot lower than they were last week. Alaina Getzenberg was asked to write about the team’s biggest Achilles’ heel, and while I would have chosen the offensive line, Getzenberg went with inconsistencies on special teams. She wrote about Matt Haack, who has been among the league’s worst punters this year (he’s averaging just 36.1 net yards per punt), and also mentioned Isaiah McKenzie’s muffed punt in last week’s win over Miami. Given McKenzie’s former struggles with catching punts, it’s easy to be nervous about that issue returning, but I’m not terribly concerned about a player who finds himself ranked in the top ten in kick return yards (ninth; 281), yards per kickoff return (fourth; 25.5), and punt return yards (eighth; 122).
Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo ranked No. 6, one spot higher than he had them last week. He wrote his whole blurb about quarterback Josh Allen’s success in the red zone over his career. Allen has accounted for 83 touchdowns (57 passing, 26 rushing) in his career in the red zone without an interception. Davis asks rhetorically, “Think he might add to those figures in Jacksonville on Sunday?” Why yes, Nate...yes I do.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network also has Buffalo ranked at No. 6, sandwiched between the seventh-ranked Baltimore Ravens and the fifth-ranked Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He notes that Buffalo’s offense “still doesn’t seem to be running at peak efficiency,” and that was obvious on Sunday. Miller worries that Buffalo could struggle to run the ball if Allen is contained, but he also notes that Devin Singletary has been effective when given chances this year. He is still concerned about Buffalo’s losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans, although he writes that he considers the Bills to be one of the league’s best clubs.
Dan Hanzus at NFL Network has Buffalo ranked No. 4, down one spot from last week. He writes that the Bills earned a “workmanlike” victory over Miami. He also writes that the Bills have “owned” the Dolphins in the recent years, and seven straight victories over them suggests that he’s correct. Buffalo’s defense allowed only 262 yards on the day in what Hanzus called a “return to form” for the stop unit. He notes that the schedule remains “soft” with this week’s matchup against the one-win Jacksonville Jaguars.
Although an author isn’t listed, Listwire (a USA Today subsidiary) has Buffalo ranked two spots higher than its own Nate Davis does. The Bills come in at No. 4 on this list, right between the fifth-ranked Buccaneers and the fourth-ranked Dallas Cowboys. The blurb notes that the win over Miami wasn’t pretty, but “every win does not have to be” so.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has Buffalo at No. 4, two spots better than they were last week. He writes that the Bills have the NFL’s weakest remaining schedule, which bodes well for their quest for the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs, but doesn’t necessarily give them the chance to be battle-tested heading into the postseason. Schwab thinks that Buffalo will handle the teams they should best on their upcoming schedule.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sport has Buffalo ranked No. 3, a three-spot jump from their ranking last week. He writes that the Bills “didn’t look good against the Dolphins, but found a way to rally in the second half.” He didn’t mention the defense at all, choosing to focus on the offense, which he said looked “lethargic” at points in the game. He also wrote that the Bills can’t afford for that to happen against better teams.
Finally, David Fucillo at DKNation (disclaimer: an affiliate of Buffalo Rumblings) has Buffalo ranked No. 2, trailing only the Arizona Cardinals in this week’s ranking. As he’s done all year, Fucillo uses point differential against the point spread to rank the clubs. Buffalo has the NFL’s best overall point differential, sitting at plus-120 after this week’s win, but they are second in point differential against the spread. The Bills are plus-68.5 against the spread, meaning they’ve not only covered most games, but they’ve done so by a wide margin. Arizona has an overall point differential of plus-108, second in the league, but a differential against the spread of plus-72, which is tops in the NFL.