ESPN FPI: Buffalo Bills are NFL’s No. 1 team

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The Buffalo Bills are sitting comfortably in ESPN’s Football Power Index early this offseason.

Heading into the summer, the Bills rank No.1 in the former world-wide leader’s metric:

Not only do the Bills land at the top of the rankings, Buffalo does by a health margin, especially in terms of the AFC.

The closest team in the conference is the Kansas City Chiefs, who land at four. The  third AFC team to pop up is the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 7.

Unfortunately for the division, ESPN wasn’t very nice.

The New England Patriots are the closest AFC East rival of the Bills all the way down at 15. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets round things out at 21 and 31, respectively.

Specifically on the Bills, here’s how ESPN explained Buffalo’s top placement:

It’s not a shock to see the Bills at the top of the rankings, considering the team’s performance last season. They closed the year looking like the best team in football, and quarterback Josh Allen had one of the greatest games of all time in Buffalo’s 47-17 playoff victory over the Patriots. But No. 1 is No. 1, so what put Buffalo over the top for FPI?

It starts with Allen. The fifth-year QB ranks third in our predictive quarterback rating, behind only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers but ahead of Patrick Mahomes. He is obviously a threat through the air and on the ground, and he’s a big reason why the Bills edge the other 31 teams here.

But as we saw from Buffalo last season, it doesn’t end with Allen. The Bills boast a high-end No. 1 receiver in Stefon Diggs and an above-average offensive line, and they led the league in defensive efficiency last season. That came before signing Von Miller this offseason, which will only help the cause. There are not many holes on this team.

So even though the Bills are favorites to win the Super Bowl, why only 7%? The Chiefs, last year’s top team going in, were at 19% in the 2021 preseason. In short, we upgraded our process to better account for the variance between teams’ expected ability and what their actual ability turns out to be. Plus, there are quite a few contenders close to Buffalo’s talent level. Thus, there are plenty of other teams that could end up better than Buffalo — and of course, every team still has to manage at least three postseason wins to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, no matter how good they are on paper.

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