The Buffalo Bills ended the 2020 NFL season on the doorstep of a Super Bowl berth, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-24 in the AFC Championship Game. Heading into the 2021 NFL season, plenty of experts seem to “Billieve” in Buffalo, ranking them almost universally in the top five throughout this week’s power rankings.
John McClain of The Houston Chronicle has Buffalo ranked at No. 5, one spot behind the Green Bay Packers. He writes that the Bills should run away with the AFC East this year, with a caveat: he notes that the team will only realize their full potential if quarterback Josh Allen stays healthy. That is definitely an obvious nugget if I’ve ever read one.
Mike Clay at ESPN ran some projections, and after crunching the numbers, he placed the Bills at No. 8 on his power rankings, one spot ahead of the Dallas Cowboys and one spot behind the Minnesota Vikings. Clay writes that the Bills had a quiet offseason, which he calls a good thing thanks to the team’s 13-3 season last year. He calls Josh Allen one of the league’s best players, and he thinks that Allen will once again be in the MVP race as Buffalo wins its second straight AFC East Division title. He calls the team’s defense “average on paper,” which might ruffle some feathers in that part of the locker room.
Danny Kelly at The Ringer ranks Buffalo at No. 3, focusing on the team’s “high-octane” offense as the driving force behind their success. He thinks that the Bills have a chance to “usurp the Chiefs as the NFL’s gold standard for high-octane offenses, in fact, noting that Josh Allen and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll both treated Buffalo’s preseason finale against the Packers like a showcase for exactly what they plan to do to the rest of the league come September 12. Granted, Green Bay was resting many of their starters—a fact which Kelly seems to ignore—but he was impressed with the Bills regardless, writing that Buffalo’s offense “cut through the Green Bay defense like a hot knife through butter.” Kelly closes by writing that Buffalo could be the AFC’s best team if its pass rush comes along as expected.
Nick Goss at NBC Sports Boston has the Bills ranked No. 4 heading into Week 1. He writes that the Bills’ goal should be a Super Bowl this year given the team’s trip to the AFC title game last January. He thinks that their Week 5 tilt against the Chiefs should serve as a playoff preview once again.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News considers Buffalo to be “the biggest co-threat to dethrone the Chiefs,” ranking Buffalo at No. 3 overall. As with many of these rankings, the Bills and the Cleveland Browns are the two teams believed to be the biggest threat to Kansas City’s conference supremacy. Iyer notes that the Bills have an elite quarterback, but the team would really like to run the ball better this year so as to avoid leaning on Allen as much as they did last year in situations where the they had the lead.
Finally, this isn’t really a power ranking, per se, but I wanted to end on the most positive note I could. The folks at ESPN ran their annual simulations of the NFL season, going through 20,000 iterations utilizing data from their Football Power Index (FPI) to provide the most accurate projections possible. Seth Walder wrote about one simulation, number 13,330, and that simulation ended with the Buffalo Bills defeating the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. Josh Allen was the league MVP en route to a 13-4 Buffalo season that ended in a 27-17 victory in the Super Bowl.
Here’s to hoping that we’re living in simulation 13,330.