The Buffalo Bills have won four games in a row, turning a 6-6 record at their bye week into a 10-6 record. More importantly, the Bills have taken huge steps towards qualifying for the playoffs, increasing their odds all the way up to 95% entering Week 18, according to The New York Times playoff calculator.
As great as those odds may be, if the Bills lose their final game this week, they could plummet all the way to zero if they don’t receive some help. If the Pittsburgh Steelers win, the Jacksonville Jaguars win, and the game between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts doesn’t end in a tie, Buffalo is eliminated with a loss.
The entirety of Buffalo’s playoff situation seems to have been taken into account by most people in charge of power rankings, as the Bills reside near the top, but not quite as high as some of the more “elite” teams in the league. Given their record and the aforementioned playoff situation, this makes sense. Most pundits sound like Bills fans do when describing the team, as they don’t quite know what to do with a team that is this talented that also has this many losses — and seems to struggle so mightily at times against opponents who, on paper, should not provide much competition.
We start with Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News, who has Buffalo ranked No. 8 this week. That’s actually one spot below where he had them ranked coming into play. He writes that the Bills are “a dangerous floater in the AFC playoff race,” which is both an odd way and an apt way to describe the team’s current situation. He notes that the Bills have the “widest array of possible outcomes” of the AFC teams remaining in the playoff race.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network has the Bills ranked No. 3 this week. He writes that the Bills “absolutely needed to take care of business against the Patriots,” which is a gentle way of saying that the Bills won in a less-than-inspiring fashion. He called the late hit that caused a stinger for quarterback Josh Allen a “scare,” which is also a gentle way of saying that it was absolutely terrifying for Bills’ fans for a good few minutes in the immediate aftermath.
Ryan Reynolds at The 33rd Team has the Bills ranked one spot higher than he did last week, placing them at No. 3 in this week’s poll. He writes that Buffalo “looks like the next-most dangerous team” in the potential playoff field outside of the two clearly elite teams this year (The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers). He also acknowledges just how precarious Buffalo’s playoff situation is given that the team could face elimination with a loss on Sunday.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports has the Bills at No. 4 this week, up two spots from where they were entering play. In his quick blurb, he writes that Buffalo “will be tough to beat come playoff time,” which is a great sentiment that could be useless if they fail to beat Miami on Sunday night. He dedicates the lead of his column to Buffalo’s growth since their 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos, a game which dropped them to 5-5 on the season. It’s a good read.
Matt Johnson at Sportsnaut has Buffalo at No. 6 this week, down two spots from their ranking last week. He called the Bills’ win an “ugly game, for the offense and quarterback Josh Allen” which is certainly true. He praised the team’s defensive effort, specifically noting the two-sack performance from linebacker Terrel Bernard and the two-interception performance from cornerback Rasul Douglas.
The power rankings panel at ESPN has Buffalo at No. 5 this week, two spots higher than they were before their win over New England. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about Buffalo’s offseason contract situation to watch, and she singled out edge rusher Von Miller. Coming off an ACL tear at 34 years old, Miller has been a shell of himself, totaling just three tackles and three quarterback hits in 11 games this season. Miller’s contract situation is touchy not just for his lack of performance on the field, but given his arrest on domestic violence charges during the team’s bye week, there is a whole other layer to consider. If Buffalo were to release Miller and designate him a post-June 1 cut, it would save the team $6.79 million on next year’s cap, but they’d carry a dead-cap charge of $17.084 million in 2024 and $15.417 million in 2025.
Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk has the Bills at No. 3 this week, up a spot from where they were last week. He writes that “The third-best team in the league still could miss the playoffs,” a sentiment echoed by many throughout this week’s power rankings.
Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo ranked No. 3 this week, up one spot from their ranking entering the week. He writes that all the Bills have to do to win their fourth-straight divisional title is defeat the Miami Dolphins this week, which is no small task. Miami is 7-1 at home, while the Bills are just 3-4 on the road this season.
Frank Schwab at Yahoo! Sports has the Bills at No. 3 this week, which is exactly where they were leading up to their win over New England. He writes that the Bills “got what they wanted, a shot at the AFC East title in the final week of the season.” He also notes the potential dire nature of the contest for Buffalo, given that a “win-or-go-home scenario” is quite possible.
Finally, Eric Edholm at NFL Network bumped the Bills up to No. 6 this week, but he’s still wary of giving the team much more credit than that given their struggles against subpar opponents. He acknowledges the social media hate he’s received about ranking the Bills lower than some fans want to see them — and lower than many other pundits who compile power rankings — but he gives a reasonable analysis to support his stance. Edholm questions whether Buffalo can afford to beat a team like Miami if their offensive plays as sloppily as it has the last two weeks. I think we all know the answer to that question, and it’s likely not what we want to hear.