After a pair of demoralizing losses, the Buffalo Bills find themselves sitting at 6-3. No longer are they in first place in the AFC East; instead, they are in third. No longer are they the top seed in the conference; instead, they are sixth. That’s the bad news. The good news, of course, is that there are still eight games left to play, and Buffalo still holds head-to-head tiebreakers over every first-place team in the AFC outside of the division.
The Bills have faced the NFL’s second-hardest schedule so far, and they have faced the most difficult schedule in the AFC to date. Yet, they have lost just three games by a combined eight points. There’s plenty to be mad about, especially since the last two games looked like clear wins until the team threw those victories away in the second half. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.
NFL power rankings, though, tend to be far more reactive, and the Bills plummeted as a result of their latest blown lead.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk dropped the Bills all the way to No. 9, which is, frankly, a perfect example of a gross overreaction. He writes that “prohibitive Super Bowl favorites” don’t blow 17-point leads at home.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has Buffalo ranked at No. 6 this week. He writes about the Bills’ Super Bowl window in the article’s intro, writing that it “feels like Buffalo is giving a golden opportunity away” to host games in January. While he writes that the Bills clearly have the talent to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens on the road in the playoffs, he thinks it would be infinitely easier to do so in their own building. As for Sunday’s game, he writes that it was “troubling” how Buffalo’s defense let down. He calls it “strange,” but he doesn’t mention that most of Minnesota’s yardage came in the second half after middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds left the game due to a groin injury.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has Buffalo ranked No. 5, which is the most common placement for the team this week. He writes that quarterback Josh Allen has to “stop throwing picks”—thanks, Captain Obvious—while also noting that the Bills have fallen to third place in their own division. Buffalo did the same thing last year in the midst of a 2-4 stretch that ultimately cost them the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but they were able to recover enough to win the AFC East.
The rankers at ESPN also have Buffalo at No. 5 this week. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about someone whose seat was “hot” in the preseason, and this week, she’s checking back in with that prediction. She wrote about offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, calling his seat temperature “lukewarm” after the Bills have struggled mightily in three consecutive second halves. She thinks that it’s too severe to say that his seat is hot given the offense’s overall success, placing plenty of blame on Allen, who has thrown multiple interceptions in three straight games for the first time in his career.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 5, and most of the points he makes are well stated. He writes that the team’s defense has been a concern of late, as there have been more breakdowns against both the run and the pass. Some of this is situational, as the Bills are dealing with myriad injuries on that side of the ball, but there have been issues over the last three weeks. He also calls out the team’s situational football, writing that it shows how much Buffalo struggles in that regard because they’ve lost so many close games.
Dan Hanzus at NFL Network ranked Buffalo No. 5, referring to last week’s game as “another stomach-punch loss.” He put much of the blame squarely on Allen’s shoulders, noting that the quarterback turned the ball over three times in the final 20 minutes of play. Hanzus is concerned that some of these “head-scratching, self-inflicted errors” are becoming “commonplace,” as the Bills lead the NFL with 18 turnovers this year.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has the Bills ranked No. 4, as the team remains in his “elite” tier this week. He writes that “if Cam Lewis punches a fourth-and-18 into the stratosphere instead of trying to intercept it, we’re almost surely discussing a Bills win. Instead, Justin Jefferson made the catch of the year...” He continues by listing all of the craziness that ensued—the Minnesota Vikings failing to score on 4th & Goal, Allen fumbling a snap then leading the team down the field for a game-tying field goal, and then Allen throwing the game-ending interception in overtime.
Nate Davis at USA Today has the Bills at No. 3, and he gives them a little slack this week. He writes that it’s “not every week that you’ll get torched by a receiver of Jefferson’s caliber.” He does think, though, that the secondary is a concern given cornerback Tre’Davious White’s inability to appear in a game and ongoing injuries at safety, where both Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer have been absent.
Austin Gayle at The Ringer has Buffalo ranked No. 3 this week. He urges readers not to “overreact to the Bills losing two consecutive games.” While he notes that it’s a concern that they’ve fallen behind the Chiefs in the race for the No. 1 seed in the conference, he still believes that the team is among the best in the league. A measured response in a power rankings article isn’t common, but in this case, Gayle captures my feelings perfectly.
Finally, Conor Orr at Sports Illustrated has Buffalo ranked No. 2 this week. He also preaches patience here, writing that we have “held [the Bills] to an impossible standard, which made totally normal regular-season losses into significant narrative-forming issues.” Blowing two second-half leads could absolutely be a narrative that follows the team to its demise in 2022, but it could just as easily be a blip on the radar in what is ultimately a long season.