Saturday, September 11, 2021

Buffalo Bills Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Buffalo Bills rank in terms of average, best and worst:

  • Average ranking: 3.2 (3rd)
  • Best ranking: 2nd (CBS Sports)
  • Worst ranking: 5th (USA Today)

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Bills in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 5

Person on the hot seat: TE Dawson Knox

The Bills are undeniably high on Knox after a pedestrian 2020 season, declining to make major moves for a starting tight end outside of signing Jacob Hollister. But GM Brandon Beane said this offseason that the team needs more out of its tight ends, and Knox, the leader of the bunch, has the talent to provide it. He has struggled with drops over the past two seasons but worked with a "hand-eye" trainer this offseason to alleviate the issue. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques -- Rank: 3

Next offseason might represent something of a passing of the torch along the defensive line, when several veteran stalwarts could move on to make room for the young guys. But in the here and now, the Bills have a varied and talented group of D-linemen, allowing coordinator Leslie Frazier to mix and match in order to maximize havoc in the trenches. Buffalo is hoping for an instant impact from rookies Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham, but keep an eye on A.J. Epenesa, a second-year pass rusher who received plenty of buzz this summer.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 3

This is a deep, talented team that has the weapons to score a bunch on offense. The defense will be better as well, which is why they are my pick to win it all.

USA Today -- Rank: 3.2

A defensive line reinforced by rookies Gregory Rousseau and Boogie Basham and return of Star Lotulelei might be enough to vault last year's AFC finalists past Kansas City.

The Athletic -- Rank: 2

Why they're ranked here: Our panelists are in complete agreement that the Bills are a top-five team heading into Week 1, and nearly half of the voters picked them right here, at No. 3. It makes sense: The Bills advanced to the AFC Championship Game last season, have one of the game's best ascending young quarterbacks in Josh Allen and addressed key weaknesses on the roster, particularly by using their first two draft picks on edge rushers.

One big question: Will the Bills run the ball? One of the most intriguing things about Allen's breakout 2020 season was his massive leap in production while playing in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the NFL. Allen had 37 touchdowns (compared to 20 in 2019) and a 69 percent completion rate, up more than 10 percentage points from the previous year. That offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is so apt to call pass plays on early downs and in neutral situations for Allen makes the Bills exceedingly fun to watch. But is it sustainable? We're not asking Buffalo to become a 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust team, but as opponents adjust more to what Allen and the Bills did a year ago, it will be important to see if Buffalo has an answer through its running game. (We considered making COVID-19 the big question here, but The Athletic's Tim Graham did that for us.)

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