The Buffalo Bills are flying high after their fifth consecutive win, this one a 32-29 come-from-behind victory over the Miami Dolphins. That win put Buffalo in firm control of the race for the AFC East title, as the Bills need just one win or one Miami loss to clinch their third straight division title.
With a tight victory over a very good team, it’s no surprise that the Bills stayed at about the same place they were last week in the NFL power rankings. They’ve been ranked in the league’s upper-echelon for the entire season, so beating a good Miami team only helped their case as one of the league’s best squads.
We start our roundup with Buffalo’s lowest ranking, which is a No. 4 rank from Sports Illustrated. Conor Orr has Buffalo behind the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the San Francisco 49ers, in that order. He writes that Buffalo is the league’s most resilient team, noting that they need the first-round bye that comes with being the AFC’s No. 1 seed “as badly” as few teams do. He finishes by noting that, if Buffalo can continue to add tight end Dawson Knox into the game plan more consistently, it will burden an already overworked slate of opposing defensive coordinators trying to stop quarterback Josh Allen.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 3 this week, trailing the Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, respectively. All three of those teams are in his “Elite” tier. Miller writes that Buffalo’s offense is pretty easy to figure out: “Josh Allen plays like an alien, and Buffalo’s offense looks like the most unstoppable force in the league. If Allen makes a few mistakes or is slightly off, the story is much different.” He thought that Allen put the entire team on his back on Saturday night, willing the club to a win over Miami. I can’t say I disagree.
Dan Hanzus at NFL Network also has the Bills at No. 3, writing that Saturday’s victory was “exactly the type of high-stakes playoff tune-up this team needed.” Hanzus also adds that this season has felt like a “chore” for a talented Buffalo squad navigating injuries and a much-improved division while on their way to holding the AFC’s top seed this late in the season.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has the Bills ranked No. 2, which is as high as they go in this week’s slate of power rankings. Schwab notes that, thanks to the Jalen Hurts injury in Philadelphia, Allen has a chance to make a strong case for the league’s MVP award over the course of these next three weeks. He thinks that the race comes down to Allen and Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs. Truthfully, I think the MVP is Hurts, and if Philadelphia flounders a bit in his absence, that would only solidify his case as MVP. If they don’t, then it makes a case stronger for someone else. Only time will tell, however.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk also has the Bills ranked No. 2. His brief review proclaims that “Every NFL game in December should be played in Buffalo.” That’s a far cry from the “this team should be mandated to have a dome” talk we heard from some corners of the internet, and while it’s clearly tongue-in-cheek, there is something about a snowy night in Orchard Park, NY while the Bills are winning.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports also has Buffalo ranked No. 2 this week. He writes that the team has “some defensive issues that show up, but they will be a tough team to beat at home if they have the top seed.” He also notes that the offense is “back on track” after Saturday’s performance.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News is another ranker with Buffalo in the No. 2 spot this week. He writes that they need to “clean up a few things” on defense, and while he doesn’t explain what those things are, it’s definitely the run defense and some long-ball coverage lapses that Miami exploited. Iyer also liked Buffalo’s diversification of the pass and run game around Allen in digging out the victory.
Austin Gayle at The Ringer has Buffalo No. 2 this week, and he spotlights Allen and his superstar play in spite of an elbow injury as the biggest reason why. He notes that Allen is second in EPA per drop back among quarterbacks, trailing Mahomes ever-so-slightly.
Finally, ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg writes about the “pleasant surprise” for the No. 2-ranked Bills, and she chose defensive tackle DaQuan Jones as that player. She called him a “key addition” and one of Buffalo’s “best free agency moves” this offseason, noting that while the Bills signed far more high-profile defensive linemen (Von Miller), it’s been Jones who has quietly been a catalyst for success along the defensive front. She notes that he leads the team in run stop win rate (42.7%), and also leads the team’s defensive tackles in sacks with two. We’ve been very high on the Jones acquisition since it happened, so he hasn’t flown under our radar, but it’s good to see him earning some praise from larger publications in the midst of what has been a very strong year.