Ultimate Standings: Bills' new bosses spur rankings jump

AP Photo/Gary Wiepert

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Buffalo Bills

Overall: 49
Title track: 90
Ownership: 32
Coaching: 42
Players: 59
Fan relations: 69
Affordability: 13
Stadium experience: 98
Bang for the buck: 53
Change from last year: +33

When team founder Ralph Wilson died in 2014, the future of the Bills suddenly became uncertain. Enter Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the NHL Buffalo Sabres. The purchase was a relief for the organization and its fans, who had feared that an outside bidder would buy the team and move it elsewhere. And the rankings (No. 13 in affordability and No. 53 in bang for the buck) show that the Pegulas have plenty to work with in the Bills, whose overall ranking has climbed 33 spots since 2014, from 82nd to 49th.

What's good

The Bills' No. 42 ranking in coaching -- up from 77th in 2014 -- is a reflection of the big-profile hire of Rex Ryan this past offseason. Ryan ended his Jets career with four consecutive non-winning seasons (the Jets went a combined 26-38 from 2011 to 2014), but his success in 2009 and 2010 ought to provide some hope that this year's title track ranking of 90 can be boosted going forward. Ryan led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances those years, even knocking off the Patriots in a playoff upset in January 2010. The Bills have been tormented by New England in the AFC East for more than a decade, and Ryan's willingness to publicly challenge the division's best team has Buffalo die-hards optimistic.

What's bad

There are few venues in the NFL older than Ralph Wilson Stadium (built in 1973), so it's no surprise that the stadium rank is in decline (No. 98 this year). Some are fond of the stadium's no-frills, college-style vibe, but by modern NFL standards, The Ralph is a dinosaur that lacks the bells and whistles of newer venues. The Pegulas have committed to either building a new stadium -- perhaps in downtown Buffalo -- or extensively renovating the Bills' 42-year-old suburban facility.

What's new

The Bills moved up a staggering 64 spots in the ownership ranking, the result of the transition from Wilson in 2014. The Pegulas' franchise purchase -- for an NFL record $1.4 billion -- had this effect, according to team president Russ Brandon: "The collective anvil that had been on the back of all of our shoulders [about the future of the team], we were able to put that in Lake Erie." The Bills sold more than 60,000 season tickets for the 2015 season, a franchise record, which is consistent with their much-improved No. 69 fan relations ranking (up from 92nd last year).

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