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Buffalo Bills remain among NFL’s elite in Week 17 power rankings

The Bills aren’t anyone’s No. 1, but they’re in the top three in most rankings

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Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills struggled through a rough first half against the Chicago Bears before ultimately pulling away and winning a 35-13 blowout. The final score wasn’t necessarily an unexpected result, as most of us had the Bills winning in a runaway. After the first half was filled with miscues and poor play, however, it was nice to see Buffalo rebound and play the way they should.

After a big win, most teams rise up in the following week’s power rankings. Buffalo, however, stayed mostly stagnant, and in a few cases, even dropped a spot or two. Such is life as the team that everyone pegged as a Super Bowl favorite in the spring.

We start with Doug Farrar at USA Today, who inexplicably has the Bills ranked No. 5 this week. He writes that “only the lowly [Indianapolis] Colts have more turnovers than Buffalo’s 24” as his main justification. He has the Bills behind the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Francisco 49ers. He also notes that Buffalo could fall from first in the AFC to third with a loss against Cincinnati this upcoming Monday night.

Dan Hanzus at NFL Network has the Bills ranked No. 3 this week. He writes that the Bills won “in the trenches” against the Bears, bullying their way to over 200 yards and three touchdowns rushing. Hanzus noted that quarterback Josh Allen threw two interceptions, and he could have even thrown two more had the Chicago secondary been “more opportunistic” in the contest. Allen has a propensity for making dangerous throws, and it’s that gunslinger mentality that both makes him great and leads to issues at times. Hanzus thinks that element of Allen’s game “needs to be cleaned up before playoff football” commences.

Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network also has the Bills ranked No. 3 this week. He writes that the Bills “sort of survived the Bears for most of the game,” which is definitely how it felt as it was happening. We’ve covered that lackluster first half ad nauseam here, but those first 30 minutes felt like a sleepwalk of sorts, with the second half a tremendous jolt back to reality for the Bills. Miller calls Buffalo a “well-rounded team” that might not be as dominant as many expected this year, but they still have “arguably the most talented team in the NFL.”

The rankers at ESPN dropped Buffalo one spot this week, as the Bills come in at No. 3 in the rankings ahead of Week 17. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about the defining moment for the Bills of the 2022 calendar year, and she chose to go right for the jugular by noting the “overtime loss in the 2021 Divisional Playoffs” against Kansas City. It seems like such an innocuous thing when it’s written out like that, but that “loss in the Divisional round of the playoffs” was a monumental event in recent Bills memory.

Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 2 this week, which is as highly as they’re ranked (and also where they fall in the majority of this week’s polls). Iyer writes that Buffalo’s offense hasn’t been “the dominant machine” that many anticipated, but they are powered by a “freight train” in Josh Allen. Add in the help that he’s received of late from his running backs, Devin Singletary and James Cook, and it’s a recipe for postseason success.

Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has the Bills ranked No. 2, as well. He writes that Buffalo “has a top-five defense by most measures,” but the real test will come this week against the Bengals in a Monday night game on the road. “If the Bills want to be remembered as a championship defense,” Schwab writes, “that’s the game Buffalo needs to have.”

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the Bills ranked No. 2, trailing only the 49ers in this week’s poll. He writes that the Bills “haven’t lost since that rollercoaster ride against the Vikings. Maybe they won’t lose again.” If the Bills want the No. 1 seed and a Lombardi Trophy, that’s what’s going to have to happen.

Pete Prisco at CBS Sports also has the Bills ranked No. 2 this week. He sticks mostly in the “Captain Obvious” category as it relates to his analysis, writing that Buffalo “can’t afford to lose [to the Bengals on Monday] if they want the playoffs to go through Buffalo.” He also notes that the team has continued to play well of late.

Finally, Austin Gayle at The Ringer has the Bills ranked No. 2, which is where they’ve been for much of the last two months in his poll. Gayle writes that the Bills “will be an unstoppable force in the postseason if they run as well as they did against Chicago.” He then writes that Buffalo hasn’t been ranked highly in EPA (expected points added) in the rushing department, and that the team hadn’t gone over 175 yards rushing until this week’s domination of the Bears. Much of this ignores the fact that the Bills lead the entire NFL in yards per carry (5.3 YPA) and are just 14th in total rushes. Given that they throw it more than they run it, it stands to reason that they wouldn’t run for a gaudy total-yardage number. Gayle maintains a bullish stance on Buffalo’s prospects, writing that the team should scare its AFC foes if they can win so dominantly in a game where Josh Allen completes “barely 58% of his passes and throws two interceptions.”