Top 3 Individual Matchups
Jerry Hughes vs. Ereck Flowers Buffalo’s most consistent pass rusher will square off against the former New York Giants cast off. When Flowers was released by the Giants last month he led the league in QB pressures allowed since 2015 with 180. He’s had to step in at left tackle due to injuries.
Taron Johnson vs. Dede Westbrook The Jaguars slot receiver is second on the team in receptions, receiving touchdowns and receiving yards. He’s probably the team’s best separation receiver and runs routes for high percentage throws. A good game by Johnson could go a long way in making the Jags one dimensional on offense.
Jordan Mills vs. Calais Campbell The long-limbed, perennial Pro Bowl defensive end for Jacksonville will be a handful for Buffalo’s right tackle on Sunday. Campbell doesn’t allow offensive tackles to get into his chest, which is why he’s tied for the team lead in sacks and second in QB hits.
Bills Top 2 Advantages
Good advantage – Pass defense Jacksonville might have better individual talent on defense, but the Bills defensive unit might be a more cohesive group overall. Evidence of that comes in their number one pass defense ranking, which is superior to the Jaguars number three ranking. Jacksonville’s pass game ranks 16th in the league.
Best advantage - Run defense Buffalo has been much more disciplined with their run defense this season than they were in 2017. That’ll be critical in their matchup this week. The Bills are giving up less than 100 yards rushing per game good for 10th in the NFL.
Bills Number 1 Must
Be the better defense In a game that is largely expected to be low scoring in nature, Buffalo’s defense must be outplay Jacksonville’s defensive unit. That means forcing more turnovers, limiting the Jaguars scoring opportunities and forcing them to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.
Deep six Jacksonville’s season is at the breaking point. Losers of their last six games, the Jaguars have plummeted out of the AFC race. They’ve lost big, and they’ve lost close games. They’ve fallen behind early (Weeks 5-10) and they’ve blown leads late (Week 11). If their defense wasn’t as good as it is their point differential of minus-43 might be considerably worse.
Run and run again The Jaguars might rank a pedestrian 20th when it comes to run percentage on offense, but it is a deceiving figure. Jacksonville ran the ball less often with Leonard Fournette out of the lineup for six games. In his return last week, we saw the Jags run the ball 43 times against just 24 pass plays called. That’s a run percentage of more than 64 percent. More of the same should be expected this week knowing the Bills bring the number one pass defense to the table.
Upside down A big problem for the Bills has been their proclivity to give the ball away on offense. It’s why they’re minus-seven in turnover differential this season. Jacksonville however, has been just as bad and it’s been compounded by their stunningly low number of takeaways. The Jaguars defense has just 11 takeaways in 10 games, the sixth lowest total so far this season. As a result, Jacksonville is last in the AFC in turnover differential at minus-nine.
Pass pro issues As maligned as QB Blake Bortles has been in his tenure with the Jaguars, he is not getting much in the way of protection from his offensive line. Jacksonville’s current front five includes a backup center and a backup right guard. RG AJ Cann may not be ready to return to the lineup from a hamstring injury suffered in last week’s game.
Backup G Josh Walker missed last week’s game with a foot injury and may not be ready to play either on Sunday.
The Jaguars have given up 28 sacks on the season, including six last week against Pittsburgh.
Fumble issues Taking care of the football has been an issue for the Jaguars this season. They currently lead the league with 11 fumbles lost in 10 games. Jacksonville had a pair of fumbles against the Steelers last week and lost one of them, which effectively ended any threat of Jacksonville coming back in the waning moments down 20-16.
Buffalo’s opponents this season have fumbled the ball 23 times to lead the league. Sixteen of them were forced by the Bills.
Quote of the week “Yeah definitely. I’ve been training with him and he’s been working it out a lot lately. I feel he’s definitely back to where it was. We definitely saw that at practice. He’s letting it go. He’s letting the receivers go run and get the ball.”
--WR Robert Foster on Josh Allen
Stat of the week Matt Milano has five takeaways this season (2 INTs, 3 FRs), which is tied for the most in the NFL.
Milestones in reach Jerry Hughes can move into seventh place in franchise history with three sacks, surpassing DE Mario Williams (43.0).
LeSean McCoy needs 120 rushing yards to move into 25th place all-time in league history, surpassing Thomas Jones (10,591 rushing yards).
Matt Milano needs one fumble recovery to record the most fumble recoveries (4) by a Bill since Bruce Smith (4) in 1985.
Final note In each of his last three games against the Bills, Blake Bortles has run for at least 80 yards.