The Buffalo Bills entered their Week 6 matchup with the New York Giants a huge favorite. With a point spread that ballooned to 15.5 points after quarterback Daniel Jones was ruled out, few people gave New York a chance to unseat Buffalo in the game.
However, after an ugly 14-9 game that Buffalo won more by attrition and grit than anything else, there are some questions about the Bills beginning to emerge in the national media narrative. Have the last two weeks been an aberration, or is this more like the type of Bills team people can expect moving forward than the group that won three games in a row by an average of 30 points?
It’s not an overreaction to say that the Buffalo Bills probably should have come out with a victory by a larger margin over an undermanned Giants squad, but it’s also an overreaction to suggest that Buffalo is somehow worse for the experience. After all, it’s better to win an ugly game than it is to lose a pretty one, and the Bills have done plenty of losing of ugly games over the last few seasons. Gutting one out against an obviously motivated professional outfit is never a bad thing, but it does seem to have negatively influenced the power rankers this week.
We’ll start with Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News, who has the Bills ranked No. 8 this week, two spots lower than they were entering play. Iyer writes that the Bills had a “rare modest home performance from Josh Allen,” who completed just 19-of-30 passes for a season-low 169 yards on the day. Iyer added that the Bills were able to “figure out how to beat a bad team,” which he notes is something they’ll need to do a better job of this week against the New England Patriots.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has the Bills at No. 7 this week, down three spots from their ranking entering play. He writes that the Bills are one of the league’s most “interesting” teams this season given their swings between tight, ugly games and explosive blowouts. He adds that, “even if [winning against the Giants] is ugly, they can’t allow what happened to them against the Jets in Week 1 to happen again in 2023.
Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo standing pat in his rankings this week, keeping them at No. 5 overall. He writes that “trust issues” are cropping up with the Bills, who eviscerated the Miami Dolphins just 16 days ago only to struggle with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Giants in consecutive weeks. He thinks that the Patriots should pose “little problem” this week, although any divisional game is tough in the NFL.
The panel over at ESPN kept the Bills at No. 6 this week, and beat writer Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about a lesson we’ve learned about Buffalo so far. She wrote that young players continue to receive big-time opportunities, and that youth movement will be even more prominent thanks to defensive injuries. She calls out the stellar play of right guard O’Cyrus Torrence and middle linebacker Terrel Bernard before noting that rookie linebacker Dorian Williams also seems poised to have a huge role moving forward.
Matt Johnson at Sportsnaut is one of the few writers to move Buffalo up in the rankings, putting them two spots higher in making them No. 5 this week. He writes that the “facts” about the Bills don’t change even with a weak Sunday Night Football showing. Those facts, according to Johnson, are that the Bills can still go very far thanks to quarterback Josh Allen, but huge injuries on the defensive side of the ball mean that the team’s Super Bowl hopes are dashed. That’s why he ranks the Bills a step below “the cream of the crop.”
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports also boosted the Bills two spots in his ranking, putting them at No. 8 this week. He writes that they “found a way” against the Giants, but against a better team, they’d probably have lost the game.
Ryan Reynolds at The 33rd Team has Buffalo ranked No. 6 this week, down two spots from their perch entering play. He notes that a loss to a good Jaguars team is excusable, but struggling with a bad Giants team at home in primetime is not. Thanks to “two bad weeks in a row,” Reynolds has the Bills outside of his top five for now.
Josh Kendall at The Athletic has the Bills standing pat at No. 6 this week. He writes that the staffers at The Athletic would “remain skeptical” about Buffalo had it not been for their decisive 48-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 4. Kendall writes that Josh Allen “might be enough to overcome” all of the team’s injuries on defense. Since Week 2, Kendall writes that Allen is completing 72% of his passes with a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk also kept the Bills in the same place this week, leaving them at No. 8 in his rankings. Florio writes that, every year, good teams escape with ugly victories in games that they should have lost. That’s exactly what happened for Buffalo on Sunday night.
Finally, Eric Edholm at NFL Network has the Bills ranked No. 7 this week, down a spot from their place entering play. Edholm writes that Buffalo showed “guts and mental toughness to win without their A-game” in a contest where the Giants “cost themselves points at multiple junctures.” He notes that head coach Sean McDermott’s decision to throw on 3rd & 9 on Buffalo’s final possession, a play that resulted in a dropped pass by tight end Dawson Knox on a low throw from Josh Allen, would have loomed large had the Giants been able to score on the game’s final play. However, it’s pretty clear that offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey is pulling the strings on that side of the ball, and had Allen made a slightly better throw — or Knox just caught the one that hit him in the hands, albeit after a diving effort on his part — none of the end-game shenanigans would even have occurred.