Top 3 Individual Matchups
Demetrius Bell vs. Aaron Kampman –The veteran pass rusher is back in his element in a 4-3 system and though his sack numbers aren't all that impressive through four games, when you consider he faced Michael Vick and Peyton Manning the past two weeks you begin to understand why. Bell is just about fully recovered from his offseason surgery and it shows in his endurance in games.
George Wilson vs. Marcedes Lewis –Opposing tight ends have proven difficult for the Bills to defend in the passing game the first month of the season. Lewis has emerged as a more potent weapon for the Jaguars. He's not blessed with the speed of a Finley or Keller, but is a giant target that can box out defenders. Wilson will likely draw the assignment with Bryan Scott not expected to play.
Lee Evans vs. Rashean Mathis –In past meetings the Jaguars have had Mathis follow Evans all over the field. It will be interesting to see Jacksonville's approach this time around and whether they choose to have their best cover corner just play his right cornerback position against Buffalo's top wideout, who is eager to break out with a big game.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage –Pass defense – The Jaguars have had their share of problems developing a consistent passing game to accompany their rushing attack as they rank 26th in passing offense. Though the Bills (12th ranked pass defense) might be a bit shorthanded, their secondary is mainly made up of players that have played two and three years together. That continuity should give them an edge against Garrard and his receivers.
Best advantage –Red zone offense – When the Bills have made it down to the red zone on offense they've done an effective job of punching it in this season scoring touchdowns four times in six opportunities, good for fifth best in the league in red zone touchdown percentage (66.7%). Knowing Jacksonville ranks 26th in the league in keeping opponents out of the end zone, allowing touchdowns at a rate of better than 71 percent, Buffalo stands a good chance of putting more points on the board this week.
Bills Number 1 Must
Neutralizing Jones-Drew –The Bills run defense has to be on point Sunday and neutralize Maurice Jones-Drew. The running back is the engine of the Jaguars offense. If they can hold his yards per carry average down around three, they'll help force Jacksonville to rely on a passing game that's been largely inconsistent the first month of the season.
Pass rush problemsIn 2008 the Jaguars drafted Derrick Harvey (8th overall) and Quentin Groves (52nd overall) with their top two picks in an effort to bolster their pass rush. Two years later Groves is now with the Raiders following an offseason trade and Harvey is in danger of losing his starting job to Jeremy Mincey, who is getting more and more playing time each week. Harvey had just two sacks last season as a full-time starter and through four games this season has none. Though the Jaguars have eight team sacks, the linchpin upon which the future of Jacksonville's pass rush was to hang has not panned out.
Passing fancyWith not much of a pass rush being generated thus far this season, Jacksonville's secondary is getting victimized regularly by opposing passers. Through the first four weeks of the season the Jaguars are giving up over 300 yards passing per game including a league-high 9.18 yards per pass attempt and a league-high nine touchdowns. The Jaguars pass defense has also surrendered a league-high 15 plays of 25 yards or more. As a result Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has had some moving parts on the back end. They released Michael Coe and Derek Cox has been in and out of the lineup.
Passing outMike Sims-Walker is facing a similar problem to that of Bills receiver Lee Evans. The Jaguars top wideout has not caught a single pass in two of Jacksonville's four games, though both of those games resulted in wins for the Jags. Sims-Walker voiced his displeasure this past week for not being a bigger part of the offensive plans. Del Rio put the onus on quarterback David Garrard to get Sims-Walker the ball. Despite not getting a ton of opportunities Sims-Walker is still tied for second on the team in receptions and is second in receiving yards.
Letdown game?The Jaguars are coming off an emotional division victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Emotional because not only did they win the game on a last second field goal, but that field goal by Josh Scobee was from 59 yards out. Facing Buffalo on the road the following week could prove to be a difficult game to get up for after such an important division triumph over a Colts team that has dominated the rivalry.
Special teams acesJacksonville's special teams has more than its share of talent despite lacking household names. Kicker Josh Scobee's 59-yard game-winner at the buzzer last week is all that needs to be said about him. Punter Adam Podlesh is one of the best directional kickers in the league. The return and coverage units are solid if not spectacular with their punt returner Mike Thomas averaging 11 yards a return good enough to rank eighth in the league.
First down woesThe Jaguars are another defense that has had trouble getting off the field on third down allowing opponents to convert at a rate of better than 46 percent. While that's not as high as Buffalo's third down defense (51%) Jacksonville does have a troubling problem defensively that leads to easy third down conversions for their opponents.
Jacksonville's defense is giving up an average of almost 6.5 yards on first downs this season (6.43), which is fourth worst in the league this season. The league average is more than a yard less than that (5.35). That's why the Jaguars have also given up 89 first downs this season, fifth most in the NFL through four games.
Quote of the Week"We've just got to have the mindset that we're going to come in and be physical, we've got to stop the run. The first thing Chan said at the team meeting was if we don't stop the run on defense then we don't have a chance. You can't win in the NFL by doing that. So we've got to get that fixed in a hurry. We know that Jacksonville is going to try to come in here and establish the running game and it comes down to who's more physical, who wants to get off the block and make a play."
--LB Paul Posluszny
Stat of the WeekIn their last three meetings with the Jaguars (2007-2009), the Bills have held Maurice Jones-Drew to an average of 31 rushing yards per game with a yards per carry average of 2.2 per rush.
Milestones in reachLee Evans needs one touchdown to move into 10th place on the Bills all-time scoring list and pass K Nick Mike-Mayer (239 pts).
Fred Jackson is 112 receiving yards away from 1,000 in his career.
Roscoe Parrish needs 72 punt return yards for 1,600 in his career.
Final noteFour of the last five games between the Bills and Jaguars have been decided by four points or less.