Gameday Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills

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Jan 3, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) throws the ball against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (2-8) will travel to Buffalo to take on the Rex Ryan-led Bills in a non-divisional matchup in Week 12. Buffalo is in the thick of the AFC Playoff hunt after moving to .500 last week with a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Jacksonville is in the midst of yet another nightmare season, and are currently riding a five-game losing streak into this matchup.

1. Does Jacksonville have any shot to win?

Jacksonville is a seven-point underdog depending on where you look, and will be without several key contributors. Tight end Julius Thomas, linebacker Dan Skuta, and defensive lineman Jared Odrick have all been ruled out against Buffalo. Running back T.J. Yeldon is a longshot to play, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

In my eyes, the outcome of this game will rely on Jacksonville’s ability to run the football. Chris Ivory will likely dominant the backfield touches with Yeldon doubtful to play, which is something I’ve been waiting all season to see. Buffalo’s defense ranks 19th in adjusted rush defense efficiency, and Jacksonville will need to exploit that if they want any chance of offensive success. It’s worth noting that Buffalo ranks 32nd in efficiency in terms of covering the opposing team’s number one receiver, so look for Allen Robinson to have a productive day.

2. What storylines should I be following?

  • Offensive line coach Doug Marrone will be returning to Buffalo to take on the team he used to coach. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett also coached in Buffalo
  • Linebacker Paul Posluzsny was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, and played four seasons there.
  • Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins will be making his return this week against Jacksonville, but will reportedly be on a pitch count. Watkins will likely draw attention from Jaguars rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who has been nothing short of sensational this season.

3. Who wins?

I’ve been so turned off by this Jacksonville team this season. They’ve royally disappointed given their preseason expectations, and their handling of personnel has been questionable to say the least. With that being said, Jacksonville has been playing better as of late. They’ve lost by single digits in the last three weeks, and had a chance to win all three of those games late into the fourth quarter. This is a good match-up for Jacksonville, who should have no trouble shutting down a Bills offense that is banged up. Call me crazy, but I like Jacksonville to go on the road and win against Buffalo, 21-18.

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