One game at a time, the Buffalo Bills are turning even the most hardened skeptics into believers.
A convincing 34-14 win Sunday over the Oakland Raiders improved the Bills to 5-2 and maintained their hold on the fifth playoff spot in the AFC. If the Bills win Thursday night at the Jets, they'll tie the New England Patriots for the AFC East lead at the midway point of the season.
Here is a look at whose stock is rising and whose is falling after Sunday’s big win:
• RB LeSean McCoy: With a combined 33 rush attempts or receptions, McCoy was exceptionally busy Sunday. He produced 173 yards from scrimmage, staying patient and sticking with the game plan. It's easy to forget that the Bills weren't having immediate success on the ground, as McCoy had just 31 yards in the first half. As the game went on, though, it was easy to see that a big run was coming. McCoy's 151 rushing yards finished just 2 yards short of his Bills career high. He's now up to eighth in the league in rushing.
• QB Tyrod Taylor: Efficient is the best way to describe Taylor's day. He completed 20 of 27 passes, didn't turn the ball over and had one touchdown. He completed passes to nine different receivers and was not sacked, several times using his feet to get out of trouble and extend plays. The Bills even left some points on the field by not turning defensive takeaways into touchdowns. That's something to work on, but the offensive production led by Taylor the first two weeks coming out of Buffalo's bye has been very good.
• P Colton Schmidt: He's got to get some props for that punt that went out at the 1-yard line. Brian Moorman would have been proud of that effort. "Big. Huge. I mean, we knew the challenge of their special teams unit," coach Sean McDermott said of Schmidt's punt. "They’re built that way, with 84 (Cordarrelle Patterson) and 30 (Jalen Richard) and what they do. Both dangerous. We were able, the guys took it to heart. That was a big challenge for us, they took it personal, and I thought they set the tone at times with the coverage units. Both Colton and Stephen (Hauschka) had a phenomenal day."
• TE Nick O’Leary: It was a quiet game for O’Leary, who had just one catch for 5 yards. O’Leary was targeted three times, and was open once in the end zone, but the throw from quarterback Tyrod Taylor was too high.
• DE Shaq Lawson: The 2016 first-round draft pick was held off the stat sheet entirely despite playing 58 percent of the defensive snaps. He earned the worst overall grade of any defensive player by analytics website Pro Football Focus, failing to record a single quarterback hurry. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr gets the ball out exceptionally quick, so sacking him was always going to be a challenge. Lawson, though, didn’t even make Carr uncomfortable.
• WR Jordan Matthews: He took a pair of penalties, even though one of them was a bogus call in the first half. A holding penalty in the third quarter erased an 8-yard gain by Mike Tolbert and put the team in a second-and-20 hole. Matthews finished with three catches for 21 yards.