If the season ended today, the Buffalo Bills would not only make the playoffs, they'd earn a bye into the divisional round.
Yes, that's fairly ridiculous to think about after three weeks, but Buffalo's 26-16 win over the Denver Broncos did return the Bills to the top of the AFC East. The AFC is tightly packed with just one team that is 3-0 (Kansas City) and three teams that are 0-3 (Cincinnati, Cleveland and the L.A. Chargers). The other 11 teams in the conference have either one or two wins.
Things will get more difficult for the Bills in Week Four when they visit the Atlanta Falcons, who are off to a 3-0 start as the defending NFC champions. After Sunday's win, though, the Bills and their fans have reason to feel good. The team won a game that many predicted they would lose, and did so convincingly. The defense under coach Sean McDermott looks legit, while the passing game also took a big step forward.
Here's a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling for the Bills after Week Three:
• CB E.J. Gaines – The player acquired in the trade for Sammy Watkins is showing he's more than a throw-in. According to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, Gaines was targeted 12 times in coverage and allowed just four catches for a total of 39 yards. He had seven tackles, three passes defensed and an interception. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian had an 8.9 rating when he targeted Gaines, according to PFF.
• K Stephen Hauschka – No kicker in Bills history has had at least three field goals in a game that were 49 yards or longer, or two in a game that were 53 yards or longer. Hauschka did that Sunday, going 4 for 4 from 27, 49, 53 and 55 yards, all to the scoreboard end of New Era Field.
“Kicking is about rhythm,” Hauschka said after the game. “I just feel more and more comfortable each game I'm here, learning this stadium, learning the winds.”
• QB Tyrod Taylor – The numbers look good for Taylor, who went 20 of 26 for 213 yards and a pair of touchdown. Most importantly, though, Taylor was able to keep the offense moving on a day when the Bills' rushing attack wasn't clicking. With team keying on LeSean McCoy, he'll have to do that consistently.
• WR Zay Jones -- Two targets, no catches for the rookie receiver. Jones was wide open once for what would have been a big gain, but Taylor rushed a throw under pressure and missed him. Had the ball that deflected off Jones' hands in the end zone not found Andre Holmes for a touchdown, we'd be making a lot more of that play. Jones' production through three games -- three catches for 39 yards -- hasn't matched his draft status.
• LG Richie Incognito -- It doesn't happen often, but Incognito was beaten clean for a sack and also took a penalty that negated an 18-yard gain by McCoy.
• DE Jerry Hughes -- He registered the lowest overall grade on the Bills' defense, according to PFF, and was credited with just one quarterback hit and one quarterback hurry in 36 snaps as a pass rusher.