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Pundits are high on Buffalo’s potential heading into opening day
The Buffalo Bills are set to open their season on Sunday in an empty Bills Stadium against the New York Jets. When that game kicks off at 1 pm EDT, the long wait to watch our Bills in action will finally have ended.
Buffalo ended last season trending upwards in most pundits’ power rankings, but this season shows a shift in the way the team is viewed nationally. The vast majority of national media types put the Bills in the upper-tier of NFL teams.
Our first ranking comes from Matt Williamson of Pro Football Network. Williamson has the Bills at No. 12 overall, good for the top spot in the AFC East, but only the sixth spot in the AFC overall. Williamson thinks that the high hopes for Buffalo this year are ““warranted,” but the Bills’ weak 2019 slate gives him cause for concern.
The staff at The MMQB also has the Bills at No. 12, and they also have Buffalo first in the AFC East and sixth in the conference. Their assessment of the team is a bit more sarcastic (“It’s been a long time since the Bills were the highest-rated team in the AFC East, but it’s not the strangest thing that’s happened in 2020”), but the six-person staff all had the Bills ranked between No. 11 and No. 14 overall.
Over at ESPN, the Worldwide Leader has Buffalo at No. 10 overall, second in the AFC East, and fourth in the conference. While the ESPN crew still has Buffalo sitting one spot behind the arch rival New England Patriots, Marcel Louis-Jacques thinks Buffalo is a “dark-horse contender” for 2020. The key, of course, is third-year quarterback Josh Allen. Louis-Jacques notes that Allen made strides last year, but he’ll need to start winning games with his arm if the Bills are to make that next leap.
Nate Davis at USA Today has Buffalo ranked No. 10 overall, the top team in the AFC East and sixth-best team in the conference overall. Davis agrees with head coach Sean McDermott’s stance that the NFL allowing fans in some locales but not others is “fairly ridiculous.” I agree, as well.
Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News has Buffalo at No. 10 overall, as well, sitting atop the AFC East and fourth in the conference. Iyer thinks that the acquisition of Stefon Diggs has put some pressure on Josh Allen to “turn the corner” this year. That’s an ironic stance given the fact that Diggs was acquired to take pressure off of Allen by giving him a top-flight target, but the point is a good one. If Allen is going to leap into the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks, this receiving corps will certainly help.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports is as high on the Bills as he was last season, ranking the team No. 7 overall heading into the season. That’s just one spot behind the Baltimore Ravens and fourth overall in the conference (behind the Kansas City Chiefs, who obviously sit at No. 1, and the fifth-ranked Pittsburgh Steelers). Prisco definitively states that the Patriots’ reign of terror atop the division is “over,” but he also notes that the Bills will only go as far as Allen can take them. Prisco thinks Buffalo is a “deep playoff team.”
Finally, Dan Hanzus at NFL.com has the Bills at No. 6 overall, first in the AFC East and fourth in the conference. He shouts out the Bills’ tremendous depth in the trenches on both the offensive and defensive lines, saying that the latter grouping will make Jets quarterback Sam Darnold “see ghosts” in Week 1. Hanzus closes by stating his expectation that the Bills will “bully” teams this year.