The Buffalo Bills entered this week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals in a tenuous position, and after a 24-18 loss, their situation becomes just a bit more dire. At 5-4 and with four in-conference losses, the Bills are essentially out of wiggle-room for the rest of the 2023 season.
That lack of wiggle-room combined with a month-long malaise is reflected in the power rankings this week. There is little confidence about the 2023 Buffalo Bills, and with good reason. The team has failed to play consistently since their defense sustained a rash of injuries during and after their blowout victory over the Miami Dolphins in the first week of October. While that game happened just over a month ago, it might as well have happened years ago at this point given how the feeling around the team has changed since then.
We start our power rankings roundup at The 33rd Team, where Ryan Reynolds ranks Buffalo No. 10 this week, just one spot below their rank entering play. He writes that Buffalo “has the pedigree and the talent” to deal with an upcoming schedule that includes six teams with plus-.500 records, but he feels that the playoffs are “no longer a foregone conclusion” for a Bills team that’s just 2-3 over its last five games.
The panel at ESPN has Buffalo ranked No. 11 this week, down two spots from their perch entering play this week. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about Buffalo’s non-quarterback MVP, and she made a sensible choice in nominating wide receiver Stefon Diggs for the title. After all, he leads the team in targets (97), receptions (70), receiving yards (834), and receiving touchdowns (7) by a wide margin. While rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid has come on of late, the passing game still runs through Diggs.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk ranks the Bills No. 12 this week, down two spots from their ranking entering play. His short explanation is right to the point, as he writes, “They need to get things figured out, or the playoffs won’t happen this year.”
Eric Edholm at NFL Network has Buffalo at No. 11 this week, down two spots from where they were entering play. He notes that readers “can convince [themselves] that Sunday was a Bengals problem” if they’d like, but he points out that most of the issues we saw on Sunday are issues that we’ve seen with the team all season. Edholm adds that the Bills seemed to go away from the things that worked so well the week before in a not-so-thinly veiled (and much deserved) shot at the play selection.
Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo at No. 9 this week, down one place from last week’s poll. He writes that it’s a good thing for the team to have mostly home games coming up — even as the Bills have struggled this season, their only loss at “home” was to the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Davis thinks now would be a good time “to evolve this offense beyond Josh Allen running and throwing to Stefon Diggs,” which seemed to be something they’d ironed out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, they’ll need to do that consistently in order to take the next step as a club.
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has the Bills ranked No. 12 this week, down two spots from his ranking last week. He writes that the Bills continue to struggle on defense thanks to mounting injuries on that side of the ball, but he also found it concerning that the offense couldn’t solve Cincinnati’s defense yet again.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has the Bills ranked No. 10, down three spots from their ranking entering the week. He writes that the team has “offensive issues in large part because of the play-calling.” He also thinks that offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey needs to let quarterback Josh Allen “play fast” thanks to the defensive injuries, which is obviously limiting that side of the ball’s effectiveness.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has Buffalo ranked No. 9 this week, down one spot from his ranking entering play. He notes that Allen has played “like an MVP candidate since his Week 1 stinker against the New York Jets.” Miller also notes that Allen is going to have to keep that up — and alludes to the fact that he may need to be better than he’s been — thanks to the drastic fall-off of Buffalo’s defense due in large part to injury.
David Helman at Fox Sports has Buffalo ranked No. 11 this week, down one spot from their ranking last week. He writes that the Bills “are incurring the sorts of injuries that derail a season.” He writes that the team lost linebacker Terrel Bernard and safety Micah Hyde last week, and given that they already had lost at least one player from each level of their defense to a season-ending issue, that just made matters more difficult. He wonders whether Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, as great as they are, are great enough to overcome the attrition week in and week out on the other side of the ball.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has the Bills ranked No. 11 this week, two spots below their ranking entering play. He essentially called Von Miller’s whiff on running back Joe Mixon a microcosm of the Bills’ season thus far. He feels like the talent is there in Orchard Park, NY, but that the team is “a step behind.” He calls the Bills a solid bet for a postseason berth, but he’s surprised that it’s even a question at this point in the season given the talent on the roster.
Finally, Matt Johnson at Sportsnaut has the Bills ranked No. 12 this week, one spot below where they were entering play. He flatly writes that the Bills “are not a Super Bowl contender right now,” and he moves on to write that “their long-term cap restraints mean this season might’ve been the last legitimate shot at the Lombardi Trophy.” I don’t think I’d go that far, as there are myriad ways a team can create space and re-tool their roster. But Johnson definitely makes some points that should give an already-agitated fan base reason to stoke the fires of angst.