The Buffalo Bills have been close to the top of the NFL power rankings for the better part of the last few weeks. Even after a midseason lull dropped them from their lofty perch atop the majority of the rankings, Buffalo has remained a near-unanimous choice as one of the league’s top five squads.
After dominating the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football last week, winning 24-10 and holding a popgun Patriots offense under 250 yards, it should come as no surprise that the Bills went up in the eyes of most rankers. However, they didn’t go back to the top spot — or even the top two spots — in most lists.
We start at CBS Sports this week, where Pete Prisco did rank the Bills No. 2 overall. He writes that Buffalo has “righted things” after playing poorly for a few weeks. It is remarkable what Buffalo has done since losing a crazy game to the Minnesota Vikings. Just 16 days ago, the Bills entered play with the Cleveland Browns at 6-3 overall and the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff race. Now, Buffalo is 9-3 and atop the conference. It’s been a huge swing of late, and Prisco thinks that the Bills are primed to continue upward.
Austin Gayle at The Ringer was the second person to place the Bills at No. 2 overall this week. He wrote that Buffalo “is one of the NFL’s most complete teams, and it has an alien at quarterback, so it was an easy call to move them back ahead of Kansas City as the top-ranked AFC team after Week 13.” He also listed some of the things going right aside from “alien” quarterback Josh Allen, including stud wideout Stefon Diggs, the “best linebacker tandem in football” in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, and offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey coming into his own after replacing Brian Daboll in that position.
Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News also had Buffalo ranked No. 2 overall. He wrote that Buffalo “enjoyed a dominant get-right game on the road in New England to open Week 13 on Thursday night.” He also mentioned the defense and the rushing attack as two elements of the team finding its footing at a great time.
The rankers at ESPN have the Bills in the third spot this week. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about an area where the Bills are “Number one,” and she wrote that they’re No. 1 in the AFC. This is a tad ironic given that the power rankings have Buffalo behind the Kansas City Chiefs, the AFC’s current No. 2 seed. Getzenberg discusses the key games remaining on Buffalo’s schedule: this Sunday’s matchup with the New York Jets, next Saturday’s clash with the Miami Dolphins, and a Week 17 date at Paycor Stadium (which I absolutely wrote out as “Paul Brown Stadium” at first because yes, I’m old) to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.
Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo ranked No. 3 this week, as well. He writes that the Bills can put the AFC East “in a vise grip” by defeating the Jets and the Dolphins in their next two games. It goes without saying that Buffalo’s goal has to be to win out, as doing so would ensure that the road to the Super Bowl runs through Orchard Park, NY this winter.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk boosted the Bills two spots this week, placing them at No. 3 after their win on Thursday. He writes that Buffalo is “back in the driver’s seat for the AFC Playoff field” thanks to their win and losses from both Miami and Kansas City.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has Buffalo ranked No. 4 this week. He writes that the Bills had a “great week” thanks to the aforementioned losses from major conference opponents. He feels that it’s “a lot to ask” of the team to win each of its remaining games, but given how “easy” the Chiefs’ remaining schedule is, he thinks it may be necessary to ensure that the Bills are the AFC’s No. 1 seed for the first time since the 1993-1994 season.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has Buffalo at No. 4, a step below his “elite” tier. He writes that, last week, the Bills did what most people expected them to do more often this year. He singled out running back James Cook, noting the importance of the rookie “finding his footing” in giving the Bills another element on offense. He also wrote about fans’ hearts every time quarterback Josh Allen leaps into the air to take contact. Given that we’re a fanbase that has plenty of folks who deliberately dive through tables, I think it’s safe to say that Allen is absolutely the perfect quarterback for #BillsMafia.
Finally, Dan Hanzus at NFL Network has the Bills at No. 4 this week. He writes that “life without Von Miller started off in encouraging form for the Bills, who shut down a tepid Patriots attack during a prime-time win in Foxborough.” He notes that Buffalo pressured quarterback Mac Jones on nearly 40% of his dropbacks on Thursday night on their way to a big divisional win.