The Buffalo Bills sit near the bottom as ESPN releases their first power rankings of the 2017 season.
The Buffalo Bills‘ 2016 season didn’t go as planned and it has caused their offseason to begin with more questions than were asked at the start of the season. To add to the struggles, ESPN made note of it in their ”way-too-early” power rankings for the 2017 season.
The rankings were posted shortly after the Super Bowl ended and had the Bills listed in the bottom fourth of the NFL at No. 26. Taking a look at how the team ranked at the end of preseason and at the end of the regular season, the Bills haven’t moved much.
Before the regular season began, ESPN had Buffalo ranked 24th. By the time Week 17 ended, the Bills moved down one spot to No. 25 and ESPN contributed it to the declining defense:
"Offense hasn’t really been a problem for Buffalo. The 2014 Bills scored 21.4 points per game and allowed 18.1 PPG. The Bills’ offense has improved each year since, scoring 24.9 PPG in 2016, but the defense has declined each year since, allowing 23.6 PPG this season."
Now with the offseason officially underway, ESPN moved the Buffalo Bills back one more spot to No. 26. Kevin Seifert, who wrote the article, said the list was an “initial rendering from our ESPN voting panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) of how the league might stack up next season.”
In the article, Seifert pointed to a couple of factors causing the Bills to fall to No. 26 including the coaching change, the uncertainty at the quarterback position, possible free agent departures and players coming back from injury.
Here’s Seifert’s explanation as to why the Bills were at No. 26:
"The Bills have moved on to their eighth coach since they last made a playoff appearance in 1999. Sean McDermott has a defensive background — much like Rex Ryan, Dick Jauron, Gregg Williams and Wade Phillips before him — but what the Bills really need to focus on is their offense. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has shown some promise, but the front-office decision to bench him in Week 17 suggests the team will commence yet another offseason search for a quarterback. The cycle continues in Buffalo."
Seifert did note some positives for the Buffalo Bills, which included an experienced coaching staff, a roster with a good foundation and a defense with a lot of potential under Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier.
In Seifert’s words:
"The Bills have some coaching strength on defense, including McDermott and coordinator Leslie Frazier, and they have the foundation of a strong unit. Under Ryan, the Bills ranked 13th in the NFL in opposing QBR the past two seasons (59.6). If 2016 rookies Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland can get healthy, the defense could be an early strength. The Bills’ spot at No. 10 in the 2017 draft probably precludes the drafting of a quarterback who can help immediately, but it is high enough to gain immediate help in some fashion."
The Buffalo Bills aren’t going to have an easy offseason and could very well have to go through a couple of heartbreaks before the 2017 season begins. If being No. 26 in the power rankings doesn’t motivate this team to make the playoffs next season, I don’t know what will.
Yahoo! Sports also ranked the Bills at No. 26 on their site, while NFL.com chose to stick them at No. 25.
It’s time for the Bills to start finding themselves near the top of any power rankings list. Let’s hope next season is that time.
What are your thoughts on the Buffalo Bills being placed at No. 26? Leave your comments below!