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Bills rise to the top of this week's NFL power rankings

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Emmanuel Sanders (1) Buffalo Bills vs Houston Texan at Highmark Stadium October 3, 2021. Photo by Ben Green

On the heels of their second shutout victory of the season, the Bills, now 3-1 on the season, have moved to the top spot in a couple of the league's power rankings. But there are some that want more convincing in light of the caliber of opponents Buffalo has faced in the first quarter of the season.

1. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

A lot of fans may see this ranking and point out that over the past three weeks Buffalo has beaten teams in Miami, Washington, and Houston that have ranged from "below average" to "downright bad." But the way in which Buffalo has so comprehensively and thoroughly dominated in those games … well, it's simply not normal. The Bills have looked like they're Alabama chopping down early-season FCS fodder over their last three games, and after dispatching the Davis Mills–led Texans on Sunday 40-0, have now outscored opponents a combined 118-to-21. Please read that a few times and revel in the ridiculousness.

Buffalo now carries a plus-90 point differential on its opponents this year, becoming one of just three teams this millennium to hit that mark through the first four weeks of the season (joining the 2007 and 2019 Patriots). With their uniquely dynamic quarterback, Josh Allen, at the helm, the Bills are tied for second in points scored (33.5). And the defense, which has already pitched two shutouts, is first in points allowed (11.0 per game). This is an incredibly balanced, talent-packed, and well-coached squad, and one that's picked up where it left off last season. And they'll get a chance to prove they deserve the top spot in Week 5, when they travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in a rematch of last year's AFC championship game.

1. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Previous ranking: 3

Biggest surprise: Defensive dominance

Why it's a surprise: The fact that the Bills' defense is playing well is not surprising, but it's the numbers that the unit has put up that couldn't have been expected. Buffalo has forced three or more turnovers in each of the past three games and has held two opponents scoreless in four games -- including a 40-0 win against Houston on Sunday. No matter the opposing offenses -- the team has faced three backup quarterbacks -- that's a big accomplishment in the NFL. That success has led to a plus-90 scoring margin. The Bills are the fifth team to be plus-80 or better through four games in the past 20 years.

1. Buffalo Bills (3-1) | Last week's rank: 2

The Bills take over the No. 1 spot after looking like the league's top team over the past three weeks. They've outscored the Dolphins, Washington and the Texans by a combined 118-21 since their inexplicable opening loss to the Steelers, and they shut out Miami and Houston. They're playing very well as they prepare to travel to Kansas City for this weekend's rematch of last season's AFC championship game won by the Chiefs.

1. Bills (3-1, last week No. 3)

In a season of heightened parity, the Bills are currently the only dominant team.

2. Buffalo Bills (3-1, LW: 4)

If we remove Week 1, the Bills would be No. 1 without much question. They've been really impressive in three straight blowouts. Their depth of talent on offense and defense gives them a shot to win a Super Bowl. Buffalo will have to beat teams better than the Texans, but that test comes up this week at Kansas City.

3. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Previous rank: No. 4

The Bills are absolutely humming on defense right now. This was extremely bad news for young Davis Mills, the third-round Texans rookie QB who threw four interceptions and led the Houston offense to just over 100 yards in a 40-0 Bills victory at Orchard Park. The Texans aren't near the Bills' weight class, but great teams flex their muscles against the league's have-nots, which is exactly what we saw on Sunday. Next week, we'll get a major showdown with the Chiefs in prime time in what feels like a preview of the AFC Championship Game. Buffalo can only hope they'll have star linebacker Matt Milano, who exited in the first half on Sunday with a hamstring injury.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Last Week: 6

Week 4 Result: Won vs. Houston 40-0

The Buffalo Bills are rather on a roll.

Since falling to the Steelers in Week 1, Buffalo has peeled off three straight blowout wins. In all three games, the Bills have scored at least 35 points. In two of the three games (including Sunday's dismantling of the overmatched Texans), the Bills haven't allowed a point.

Granted, Sunday's win carries a partial asterisk in that it came against maybe the most talent-deficient team in the league (especially on offense). The Bills also weren't good in the red zone—three touchdowns in seven trips.

But Buffalo piled up 450 total yards of offense, allowed 109, forced five Houston turnovers and logged three sacks in about as thorough a thrashing as you'll see at the NFL level.

The Bills are rolling, but next week's matchup will ratchet up the difficulty just a tad.

In Week 5, the Bills head to Arrowhead for a Sunday night rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game with the Chiefs.

At least one analyst expects them to win.

"With all due respect to the Cardinals, the Bills are the most dominant team in the NFL right now," Gagnon said. "They've outscored the competition 118-21 the last three weeks, and Josh Allen hasn't even hit his stride. They have a real good shot at beating the Chiefs."

4. Buffalo Bills (3-1)

Last week: 5

The Kansas City game will be a proving ground for the Bills. If they win, they show the league they are the class of the AFC. Home-field advantage could certainly be at stake here. The importance of that is simple when you consider McDermott is 2-0 in the postseason at home and 0-3 on the road. Chiefs coach Andy Reid is also 0-2 on the road in the playoffs as coach in Kansas City.

Playing in Arrowhead for a chance to go to the Super Bowl is a tough task. But playing at Buffalo in January can be downright brutal, which is why the Bills had to revamp the pass rush to try to beat Mahomes.

4. Buffalo Bills 3-1 (5)

The Bills' defense has pitched two shutouts in four games. It's finally living up to the expectations Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier have for every level. Josh Allen is back to taking care of the rest on offense.

6. Bills (7)

They've strung together an impressive three-game run, winning by a collective 118-21 with two shutouts ... but against two severely underpowered teams (Miami, Houston). Sunday night date at Arrowhead will be far better indicator of whether Buffalo deserves to return to top five.

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