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Buffalo Bills surge ahead in Week 16 NFL power rankings

After two straight wins against quality teams, the Bills are back near the top

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Syndication: USA TODAY Jamie Germano / Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK / USA TODAY NETWORK

Over the last several years, the Buffalo Bills have been one of the league’s better teams. Entering the 2023 NFL season, there were legitimate hopes of Super Bowl glory in Western New York. However, halfway through the season, the Bills became a confounding unit. Sitting at 6-6 entering their bye week, there was a real chance that the Bills were destined to miss the playoffs.

After the last two games, however, the hope is back in Buffalo. With victories over the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo has completely reignited their playoff hopes. The team now has a 69% chance at the postseason according to The New York Times postseason simulator, a nice change from their dire odds a few weeks ago. If Buffalo wins out, those odds climb to 99.9% that they’ll make the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Bills have risen dramatically in the power rankings over the last couple of weeks, as well. Winning will do that, and after a 31-10 clobbering of the Dallas Cowboys, the Bills made a statement about their team entering the final stretch of the regular season: they’re back, and they’re not going to go gently into the dark night of a playoff-free January.

Our first stop on the rankings roundup comes with Ryan Reynolds at The 33rd Team, who ranked the Bills No. 5 this week. That’s one spot above their ranking entering play. Reynolds notes that the Bills are “white-hot” after beating their last two opponents, games against quality teams where they’ve allowed just a combined 27 points over those eight quarters of football. He thinks that the Bills are becoming “more complete” at exactly the right time.

The power rankers at ESPN kept Buffalo at No. 8 this week. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about a category in which the Bills are “No. 1,” though, and she chose to write about first downs. Buffalo has more first downs per game (22.9) and a higher conversion percentage on third down (49.2%) than any other NFL team. She notes that the offense is a “hard offense to stop” thanks to an advancing running game to pair with quarterback Josh Allen’s arm.

Eric Edholm at NFL Network has Buffalo at No. 8 this week, two spots ahead of their spot entering play. Edholm notes that Buffalo could be a “frightening party-crasher” at 8-6. He acknowledges that the Bills aren’t yet in the playoff field — they currently sit in ninth in the AFC — but he feels that they are exceptionally dangerous in spite of that ranking. He quoted FOX Sports analyst Greg Olsen from Sunday’s broadcast, who said that ““In the event this team makes the playoffs, I don’t care if they’re the four seed, the seven seed — I don’t think it matters. I don’t know anybody in the AFC that feels good coming here or having the Bills [come to their house].” I tend to agree.

Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has the Bills ranked No. 7 this week, three spots up from their place entering play. Prisco writes that Buffalo’s “rolling right now,” and he notes that the Bills are doing it by relying on their defense and running game — which is a change from the norm. He also feels that no other AFC team wants to meet up with Buffalo in the postseason.

Frank Schwab at Yahoo! has the Bills at No. 3 this week, two places higher than they were entering play. He writes that the AFC East title is a “manageable” goal for the Bills to have, something that didn’t seem likely when they were sitting at 6-6 after losing in overtime to the Philadelphia Eagles. Count Schwab among those who think the other AFC contenders don’t want any part of Buffalo in the postseason.

Josh Kendall at The Athletic also has the Bills ranked No. 3 this week, and he also had them ranked No. 5 last week. Kendall wrote about each team’s biggest surprise this year, and for the Bills, he wrote that the team’s biggest surprise is that they’ve lost six games this season. He thinks that the answer to Buffalo’s recent success is turnovers: they’re plus-11 in their wins and minus-eight in their losses.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has the Bills ranked No. 4 this week, up from their sixth-place ranking last week. Florio’s capsule was pretty straightforward: “No. 9 in the AFC playoff rankings, and No. 4 in the power rankings.”

Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has Buffalo at No. 9 this week, up two places from where he ranked them last week. He has the Bills as the best of the league’s 8-6 teams. Iyer writes that Buffalo put together a “complete dominant win at the most opportune time” in defeating the Cowboys. He thought it was interesting that the team did it behind the legs of James Cook rather than the arm of Josh Allen.

Nate Davis at USA Today has the Bills at No. 4 this week, up four places from his ranking entering play. While he refers to this ranking as “tall cotton” for a club that currently isn’t in the playoff picture, he notes that the team is playing well against some of the NFL’s best. He writes that “if QB Josh Allen is going to take care of the ball, and RB James Cook is going to run it like he has been? No limit on what the Bills are capable of.”

Finally, Dallas Robinson at Pro Football Network has Buffalo at No. 6 this week. He asks, “How high is too high for the Bills?” That’s a valid question given their barely above-.500 record, but Robinson notes that “If the Bills don’t have to ask Allen to play hero ball and their defense continues to improve, there might not be a team that can stop them.” Buffalo has a chance to prove that they can continue the trend this Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers.