After a 43-21 thrashing of the Washington Football Team, the Buffalo Bills find themselves in first place in the AFC East. They also have erased many lingering doubts that followed the team after they dropped their opener to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While we fans remained calm, some of the national pundits seemed to be down on Buffalo after a 23-16 opening-week loss. Winning their last two games by a combined score of 78-21 has calmed most of that criticism.
We’ll start our power rankings rundown this week with Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News, who has the Bills ranked No. 5 on his list. That’s two spots higher than they were heading into last week. Iyer writes that Buffalo needed a “monster get-well game from Josh Allen,” and that’s exactly what happened against Washington. Allen passed for 358 yards and four touchdowns, and he added a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter for good measure.
Dan Hanzus at NFL Network has the Bills ranked No. 4 this week. He writes that Buffalo “has it cooking on both sides of the ball,” as the team’s offense has awoken over the last two weeks to join a defensive unit that is playing this year like it’s angry to have slipped last season. Hanzus called the victory over Washington “casually dominant” while comparing Allen to “Joe Namath cutting perfect spirals through gusting winds at Shea Stadium.” Hanzus praised Emmanuel Sanders as an upgrade over John Brown, and he also shouted out Cole Beasley for a huge performance (ten grabs for 98 yards on 13 targets). He speculates that Buffalo could have the divisional title wrapped up by Thanksgiving.
Greg Bishop at Sports Illustrated waffled between placing Buffalo anywhere between third and sixth before settling on the No. 3 slot this week. He notes that the Bills have had stretches of inconsistency thus far this year, but he ultimately believes that the team will begin to “assert its full dominance” soon. In describing quarterback Josh Allen, he comes up with one of the more colorful descriptions I’ve read, calling Allen “part lumberjack, part cheetah.” It’s bizarre, but somehow I know exactly what he means, and I even think I agree. He loves Buffalo’s deep, talented roster, and gives the team a better-than-average chance at playing “deep into January.”
Danny Kelly at The Ringer has Buffalo at No. 3, right in the middle of his group deemed “The Top Shelf.” His writeup on the Bills is quite good, so I recommend clicking the link and reading the whole thing, but he refers to the team as a “buzz saw” capable of dominating their opponents at any time. The loss to Pittsburgh in Week 1 made him nervous about picking Buffalo to go the Super Bowl, but the Bills’ bounce-back ever since has calmed his nerves.
ESPN’s panel of experts has Buffalo ranked at No. 3 this week, as well. The statistical discussion of the week centers on team QBR. For the Bills, they have a team QBR of 60.1, which ranks 13th in the league. Two pedestrian games from Josh Allen to start the year followed by a Superman-style effort in Week 3 explains the lower-than-expected ranking. It’s nothing to worry about, especially if Allen lets the good times keep rolling in Week 4. Alaina Getzenberg, the Bills writer at ESPN, notes that Allen was 20-of-25 for 225 yards and a touchdown on throws between the painted field numbers.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 2, noting that it “looks like the Bills just had a slow start to the season” in their loss to Pittsburgh. There’s a Nicholas Cage gif that works perfectly for that observation. Miller notes that Buffalo’s defense “swarms,” specifically praising defensive end A.J. Epenesa and Greg Rousseau as players helping the Bills to do just that.
Mark Maske at The Washington Post also has Buffalo ranked No. 2 and, like Miller, he has them behind the Los Angeles Rams. Maske writes that the Bills took an extra week “to get going,” but now that they have, they look mighty impressive. He calls their opening-week loss “an aberration,” and I both hope he’s completely correct and agree all at once.
Finally, Barry Werner at The Wire (USA Today) has Buffalo all the way at the top, ranking them No. 1 this week. He calls the Bills “threatening, menacing, and most important, complete” in referring to their Week 1 loss as “a hiccup.” He calls a matchup with the Houston Texans a “reward” for their dominant performance against Washington, but the coach in me can’t allow that kind of chatter: the other team practices too, and head coach Sean McDermott will have his men focused and ready to rock this week.