After beating New England, Buffalo jumps up a few spots this week
The Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots in convincing fashion on Sunday, winning 33-21 to wrest back control of the AFC East heading into the season’s final two weeks. For Buffalo, the scenario is easy to follow: win two games at home—one against the Atlanta Falcons and another against the New York Jets—and they win the AFC East for the second consecutive season.
Buffalo hasn’t repeated as a division winner since the early ‘90s, when they won the division for the fourth consecutive season in 1991. They’ll likely need to win out in order to fend off the New England Patriots and the red-hot Miami Dolphins, who haven’t lost since a 26-11 defeat in Orchard Park back in October.
Thanks to Buffalo’s consecutive victories, the team rose a bit in the power rankings heading into the season’s penultimate week. Buffalo hadn’t won two consecutive games since winning four in a row from Week 2 to Week 5 this year. The team couldn’t have picked a better time to break its habit of losing after a win.
Turning to the rankings, we start with Draft Kings, which ranks teams based on their point differential against the spread. As a result, the Patriots are still the No. 1 team in that rank thanks to their plus-100 point differential against the spread, but Buffalo comes in at No. 6 on that list. The Bills have the league’s best real point differential at plus-163.
Pete Prisco at CBS Sports also has Buffalo at No. 6 this week, up one spot from their previous ranking. He wrote that winning in the way they did on the road against New England sends a message to the entire NFL that the Bills “are back.” He called Josh Allen’s performance on the day “outstanding.”
The rankers at ESPN placed Buffalo at No. 7 this week, which is two spots higher than their ranking from last week. Alaina Getzenberg was tasked with writing about the team’s non-quarterback MVP, and she chose to split the award between safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. While she wrote that “the argument could be made that Poyer deserves the award on his own,” she ultimately chose to give it to the two studs in the back of the league’s top-ranked pass defense. She notes that Hyde and Poyer have combined for 19 pass breakups this year, they are the only safety tandem where both parts have at least five interceptions on the year, and they each individually tie for fourth in interceptions overall.
Nate Davis at USA Today bumped Buffalo three spots this week, ranking them No. 7 in the wake of the big win against New England. He writes that it’s “awfully likely Buffalo hits the postseason with a four-game winning streak and the AFC East crown as had been the master plan all along.” While the odds may point that way, we know how that goes. Buffalo needs to take care of business over the next two weeks and leave nothing to chance.
Dalton Miller at Pro Football Network also ranked Buffalo at No. 7 this week. He wrote that this is exactly how he expected Buffalo to look all year, drawing attention to how foolish the defense made rookie quarterback Mac Jones look in particular. He also called Josh Allen “the kid at recess that hit puberty before everyone else,” which I thought was a pretty fun way to acknowledge that Allen was the best player on the field on Sunday. While he said that Allen isn’t perfect, Miller writes that the $258 million quarterback has impressed him with toughness throughout the back half of the season. Miller also predicts that Allen will end the season as Buffalo’s leading rusher.
Barry Werner at ListWire ranked Buffalo No. 6 this week. He wrote that the Bills won on the back of a “great” game from Josh Allen. He stated the obvious when he wrote that the last two weeks have “changed the picture in the AFC East.”
Dan Hanzus at NFL Network ranked Buffalo No. 7 this week. He wrote that “In the biggest moment of their season, Josh Allen delivered a superstar performance.” Allen threw three touchdown passes for the second consecutive appearance in Gillette Stadium, becoming the first person to do that since Peyton Manning in 2005 and 2006. Hanzus notes that Buffalo’s return to the top of the division would not have been possible without Allen, whom he calls a “franchise quarterback in every way.”
Vinnie Iyer at Sporting News has Buffalo ranked No. 9 this week, up two spots from their ranking heading into last week. He writes that Josh Allen is taking on the brunt of the responsibility with both his arm and his legs “as a real elite QB should.” He also gives props to the defense, which he wrote seems to be “bouncing back after recent hiccups.”
Mitch Goldich at Sports Illustrated had the duty of writing up the power rankings this week, and their panel placed Buffalo at No. 8 this week. He writes that the Bills can “breathe a sigh of relief (or puff their chests out, if they prefer)” after beating New England convincingly. He writes that it’s “a lot easier to shrug away the loss to the Patriots as the result of fluky conditions now that they’ve won the rematch, especially in the fashion they did it.”
Finally, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk has the Bills ranked No. 8 this week. He writes that the team “finally realized that they need to let Josh Allen carry the offense.” I think they already knew that, but it’s nice to see Allen doing it so effectively.