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Buffalo Bills rise slightly in Week 16 NFL power rankings

A victory over the Carolina Panthers didn’t move the needle much

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills beat the Carolina Panthers soundly last weekend, winning 31-14 in a game that they had to have. Buffalo took care of business against a team that they should have demolished, which is great from a fan standpoint, but it didn’t do much to sway the media members who compile power rankings.

Many of the same discussions surround Buffalo this week, as most people see a supremely talented roster that suffers from maddening bouts of inconsistency. Regardless of past results, most rankers seem to agree on one thing: A victory this week against the New England Patriots will change the way this team is viewed.

We start with one of Buffalo’s highest rankings, as Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has the Bills at No. 7 this week. That’s three spots higher than they were last week. Prisco notes that Buffalo “beat up on” Carolina, but he also acknowledges that the stakes for this week’s game against New England are high. If the Bills win, they are looking at a possible divisional title. With a loss, they are essentially locked in to a Wild Card track barring something odd happening.

Dan Hanzus at NFL Network bumped the Bills one spot, moving them to No. 9 this week. He writes that Josh Allen and Gabriel Davis proved to be a potent combination, with Allen showing no ill effects from the foot sprain he suffered the week prior against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He lays out the Bills’ future as clearly as can be: win a tough game against New England, then “take care of business against the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets” to give a “frustrating regular season” its desired conclusion.

ESPN also has the Bills at No. 9, and Alaina Getzenberg wrote about the relative distress that head coach Sean McDermott should feel about his job security. She called McDermott’s seat a “cold” seat, which is absolutely the correct assessment. The Bills could lose every remaining game this year and McDermott would still place third in franchise history in wins (46), and his .590 winning percentage trails only Marv Levy, Lou Saban, and Wade Phillips. Regardless of the frustration of the season, McDermott’s job is secure.

Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News has Buffalo at No. 11, up one spot from last week’s poll. He wrote about Josh Allen’s success throwing to his outside receivers against the Panthers, as he notched touchdown passes to Gabriel Davis, who caught two, and Stefon Diggs. Iyer also noted the help Allen received from a “traditional” running game, as Devin Singletary totaled 86 yards on 22 carries.

Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk has Buffalo at No. 11, as well, which is two spots higher than he had them last week. He put it as succinctly as one could: “It all comes down to Sunday at New England.”

Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 10, and he still seems flummoxed by Buffalo’s lack of consistency. He notes that the Bills have an exceptional roster even without cornerback Tre’Davious White but, like many other contenders this year, they just can’t seem to put it all together at the same time. He writes that the Bills need to beat New England in order to take the lead in the AFC East.

Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo ranked No. 10 this week, up one spot from their ranking last week. His focus, as it is with most writers this week, is on the importance of Buffalo’s upcoming game against New England. He also writes that Buffalo is “working on a Super Bowl-era record” of 15 consecutive victories by a margin of more than 15 points. Hopefully, they can continue that streak this weekend.

Gary Gramling at Sports Illustrated is the compiler this week, and the pollsters have the Bills tied for sixth this week. Gramling writes that Buffalo may not need to win the AFC East to make a deep playoff run. He doubts whether the Bills can beat New England with “a defense that isn’t great against the run and—with the forward pass presumably an option for the Patriots this time around—a secondary missing Tre’Davious White.” However, he thinks that the Bills are actually built to win away from home, so he doesn’t view it as a bad thing if the team doesn’t have a playoff game at home this year.

Finally, the rankers at DraftKings continue to rank based on “point differential against the spread.” The Bills rank sixth by that metric, sitting at a +46 differential against the spread. Buffalo leads the league in actual point differential at +151. Their opponent on Sunday is second at +140.