The Buffalo Bills dominated for most of the night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8. However, at the end of the game, the Buccaneers were still just one Hail Mary away from victory. Once that pass fell harmlessly to the turf at Highmark Stadium, Buffalo was able to walk away with a 24-18 win that was much closer on the scoreboard than it felt in real time.
The outcome, however, seems to have colored the opinion of those who make power rankings this week, as the Bills are at or just slightly above the same level where they were at the start of the week. Ultimately, that doesn’t matter much, but it’s interesting to see just how perfect some in the media expect the Bills to be on a weekly basis.
We start over at ESPN this week, where their panel of experts has the Bills at No. 9, one spot up from their previous ranking. The stat of the week is total team QBR, a category where the Bills are ranked first in the entire league. Beat writer Alaina Getzenberg then notes the “up-and-down” season from quarterback Josh Allen before she moves on to write that he is “leading the league in completion percentage (71.7%), is fourth in passing yards (2,165) and third in touchdowns (17).” Given that Allen is the only player to throw a pass for the Bills — backup Kyle Allen has appeared in three games as a designated hand-off guy — it’s odd to think of Allen’s season as “up and down” when he is the NFL leader in a few major categories.
Nate Davis at USA Today had the Bills stand pat this week, maintaining their No. 8 ranking. He writes about the Bills’ return to Cincinnati to face the Bengals this week, the first time Buffalo has returned since safety Damar Hamlin’s collapse due to cardiac arrest in January. Davis is hopeful that “Week 9 provides a nice forum to celebrate Hamlin’s medical saviors and offers some closure for a team that seems to need a lift.”
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has the Bills at No. 10, which is also where he had them entering the week. Iyer writes that the Bills “finally” allowed Josh Allen to be himself, letting the stud quarterback use both his arm and his legs in “getting the offense somewhat going again.” He went on to note that Buffalo’s defense is “still is undergoing transitional pains vs. the pass.” I don’t really agree with that last statement, as the Bills looked great in coverage against two All-Pro caliber wideouts last week. Quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns on the night, but Buffalo held Tampa to just 124 passing yards through the 11-minute mark of quarter four. Mayfield totaled 113 yards on Tampa’s final two drives.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports had the Bills move the most this week, as he ranked them at No. 7 after a 13th-place ranking last week. He writes that the Bills face another “proving game” this week on the road in primetime against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Matt Johnson at Sportsnaut kept the Bills at No. 11 this week. He notes that there was good news and bad news to come from Buffalo’s win over Tampa Bay. The good news was that the quick-strike offense looked strong, leading to a breakout game from rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid and a career-low 13% pressure rate faced for Josh Allen. The bad is that, over the last four games, Buffalo’s defense has allowed a 99.9 quarterback rating with a 68% completion rate and 7.1 yards per attempt.
Mike Florio ranked Buffalo No. 10 this week, two spots higher than where he had them entering play. His quick writeup reads, “They’re going to have their hands full in Cincinnati.”
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has Buffalo ranked No. 9 this week, up one spot from their ranking entering play. He writes that Buffalo “looked good” against Tampa Bay, but he was concerned with “the way they let up” at the end of the game. He thinks that this week’s matchup will indicate whether or not Buffalo is capable of contending for a Super Bowl this season.
Eric Edholm at NFL Network has Buffalo ranked No. 9 this week, which is exactly where he ranked them entering Thursday’s game. He called the victory a “closer than it shoulda been” win for the Bills before mentioning the tough stretch of schedule they have coming up. Buffalo has road games against the Cincinnati Bengals (this week), the Philadelphia Eagles (Week 12), Kansas City Chiefs (Week 14), and the Miami Dolphins (Week 18) remaining. Edholm wonders whether Buffalo can close in the fourth quarter against better teams in light of their recent injury issues on defense.
Ryan Reynolds at The 33rd Team has Buffalo ranked No. 9, as well, although that’s one spot higher than he had them last week. He was encouraged by Josh Allen spreading the ball around to multiple receivers this week, which was good in the sense that the passing game is often too centered on star wideout Stefon Diggs, in Reynolds’ estimation. He also notes that the Bills have a big test coming up this week against the Bengals.
Finally, Josh Kendall at The Athletic has the Bills ranked No. 11 this week, which is actually one spot lower than he had them last week. He writes that the “scary thing” for the Bills (his theme is obviously Halloween this week) is the injuries, specifically those on defense. Without linebacker Matt Milano, cornerback Tre’Davious White, and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, Buffalo’s defensive EPA (expected points added) has gone from .20 per play (4th in the league) to -.02 per play (25th in the league). The Bills are definitely going to have to adjust, and both the eye test and the numbers are bearing that out in real time.