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Buffalo Bills begin 2023 NFL season near top of most NFL power rankings

With less hype than they had entering the 2022 season, Buffalo remains a strong pick with most

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NFL: Preseason-Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills enter the 2023 season in an interesting position. Many pundits seem to feel as if the team is entering a downward phase, or at least the beginning of the end of the successful run they’ve had over the last few years. That may be a result of the team’s inability to move on to a Super Bowl over the last two seasons in spite of having one of the league's more talented rosters.

However, there has also been significant praise given to two of Buffalo’s divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets. Are the Bills in danger of losing out to stiffer competition this season? Or are they still the belles of the ball, albeit with a little less shine in their proverbial preseason shoes?

For all the talk of closing windows we’ve endured this offseason, I expected a much lower slate of power rankings entering the 2023 NFL season than what I saw when scanning some of our usual sources. While there are a few outliers, the Bills are generally viewed as a top-five team in the league — a ranking I’d say is more than fair as the season begins.

We’ll start with one of those outliers, as Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk has the Bills ranked as the No. 8 team in football. That puts them at No. 3 in their own division, per Florio, as he has the Dolphins at No. 5 and the Jets at No. 6. Florio compares the Bills to a “Jenga tower 20 moves in,” which feels to me like a rather elaborate metaphor when he could have just said that he has no idea what he’s talking about.

Former NFL offensive lineman (and former Buffalo Bill) Ross Tucker has the Bills at No. 6 overall entering play for Week 1. He and Jack Connell spoke about each team, and Tucker’s Bills analysis was a bit brief. He said that he wasn’t sure that the team “got better” this offseason, noting that you’d have to “point out to [him] how they got better” in order for him to see it. He also noted that, without future Hall of Fame pass rusher Von Miller, who is beginning the season on the PUP list, the Bills are “not a top-five team.”

Pro Football Focus has Buffalo ranked at No. 5 overall. Amelia Probst writes that the Bills losing linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was a big blow to the defense, but keeping Matt Milano and Jordan Poyer will help with stability. Adding Dorian Williams via the 2023 NFL Draft was something Probst thought could offset Edmunds’ loss, but she may not have known that head coach Sean McDermott isn’t going to play Williams at MLB. That spot will probably go to veteran Christian Kirksey once he’s up to speed with the defensive playbook.

ESPN also has Buffalo at No. 5 entering play. The theme of the week was to write about a player on the hot seat, and Bills beat reporter Alaina Getzenberg chose right tackle Spencer Brown, which is a more than fair choice given the 2021 third-round pick’s up-and-down play over the course of his career.

Conor Orr at Sports Illustrated has Buffalo at No. 5, as well. He writes that the fifth spot may even be preferable to Bills fans and the team after last season’s “crushing weight” of expectations. I don’t know that it was the expectations so much as the never-ending streak of catastrophic injuries that caused such fatigue for the team as the year wore on, but I digress. Orr thinks Buffalo can “still be good” even though they are in the midst of some changes.

Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has the Bills ranked at No. 4 entering the season. He notes that the Bills seem to have less luster entering play than their counterparts in New Jersey and in South Beach, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still better than those teams. He calls quarterback Josh Allen a “playground bully” and wideout Stefon Diggs “one of the best in the NFL.”

Bo Wulf at The Athletic also has the Bills at No. 4. He writes in a best-case, worst-case style, and he does a pretty good job nailing what each of those scenarios could look like this year. If all goes well, Wolf thinks that the Bills could end the year by “exorcising 50-plus years’ worth of demons.” If it doesn’t, he could see a scenario where the Bills miss the playoffs thanks to the depth of the AFC.

Eric Edholm at NFL Network has Buffalo ranked No. 3 overall. He notes how intriguing the Week One matchup is between the Bills and the Jets, especially given that New York’s offensive line is “still gelling” while Buffalo’s pass rush will be without Von Miller. He thinks that a successful pass rush without Miller would go a long way towards quieting fears that the group may be a bit soft without their top sack threat.

Zack Bussiere at Fan Duel has Buffalo at No. 3, as well. He doesn’t provide any writeup about the Bills, but the numbers he used to rank the teams are explained further in the article. The metric is the nERD ranking. Buffalo has the third-highest Super Bowl odds entering the season, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Finally, Pete Prisco at CBS Sports also has Buffalo at No. 3 overall. He writes that the Bills are the “forgotten” squad in their division, but he also thinks they’re the team to beat. Side note: He gives his Super Bowl prediction, as well, which is that the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Francisco 49ers will compete for the title in February.