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Top 6 storylines for Bills at Jaguars | Week 9 

Buffalo Bills free safety Jordan Poyer (21) Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars at New Era Field, November 25, 2018. Photo by Sara Schmidle
Buffalo Bills free safety Jordan Poyer (21) Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars at New Era Field, November 25, 2018. Photo by Sara Schmidle

The Bills are getting ready to face their third opponent in the AFC South this season. Buffalo will head to Jacksonville to take on a team with just one win for the second straight week.

Here are several storylines to follow for Week 9's matchup between the Bills and the Jaguars.

1. Sean McDermott vs. rookie QBs

The Bills will face their second rookie quarterback of the season on Sunday after beating Houston's rookie quarterback Davis Mills in Week 4. Since coming to Buffalo, Sean McDermott has been close to perfect against rookie quarterbacks. The Bills have played against six rookie quarterbacks since 2017 and are 5-1 in those matchups.

In those six games, rookie quarterbacks have thrown for only four passing touchdowns, while throwing 13 interceptions. They also post an average of a 58.7 passer rating and have been sacked 15 times. Mills posted the lowest passer rating (23.4) and Devlin Hodges and Mills threw for the most interceptions (4) against the Bills.

The reason why rookie quarterbacks have struggled is because Buffalo's strong defense makes rookie quarterbacks fight for every yard. When they played Houston in Week 4, the Texans didn't score one point on the defense. The Jaguars know the best defense in the NFL won't make it easy for Trevor Lawrence.

"Coach Frazier does a hell of a job," Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said of Buffalo's defensive coordinator. "It is complicated, but what makes it really complicated is the quality of player at the three levels. I don't know if we've faced defense that's that talented on all three levels."

Lawrence has thrown for eight touchdowns and completed 59.6% of his passes in seven games this season.

2. Creating separation among the top AFC teams

The Bills are at the top of the AFC East with a 5-2 record. In the conference standings, they currently rank fourth. The Titans (1st and 6-1), Raiders (2nd and 5-2) and Ravens (3rd and 5-2) all sit above Buffalo. The Titans, who just put running back Derrick Henry on IR, are riding a four-game win streak, which started in Week 5 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Buffalo is 1-0 following their bye week and will see two teams who only have three combined wins in the next two weeks. The Titans will play the 7-1 Rams, the Raiders will play the 2-6 Giants and the Ravens will play the 3-4 Vikings this week.

The AFC has 11 teams with at least four wins, whereas the NFC has only seven teams with at least four wins.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen understands how important every win is with how it can help them achieve their goal of hosting games in the playoffs, but doesn't focus on the big picture in each game.

"We're not trying to be the best team in the league every Sunday, we're trying to be the best team on the field that we're on every Sunday," Allen said.

Every week we hear several players explain why it's necessary to focus on stacking wins regardless of how they get the victory. They'll have another opportunity to add a win to their record on Sunday and further increase their chances of hosting playoff games at Highmark Stadium.

3. How Bills have been dominant early

Even though the Bills didn't dominate early against the Dolphins, they have been one of the best teams in the first and second quarter to start the season.

In the first quarter, Buffalo averages 6.29 points (tied 5th), has a 5.86 point differential (1st), allows .43 points (1st), limits teams to an average of 49.4 total yards (1st) and allows quarterbacks to complete just 44.4% of their passes (1st).

On the other side, the Jaguars average 3.29 points (21st), have a minus 3.14 point differential (29th), allow an average of 6.43 points (31st), let teams average 97.6 total yards (29th) and allow quarterbacks to complete 76.7% of their passes (30th) in the first quarter.

In the first half, Buffalo averages 16.29 points (3rd), has 10 takeaways (1st) and allows teams to score touchdowns in the red zone just 33.3% of the time (1st).

The ability to start fast is just one reason why Buffalo leads the NFL in scoring offense and scoring defense.

4. Could the offensive line continue its shuffling?

The Bills had to shuffle their offensive line in Week 8's game against the Dolphins due to Spencer Brown missing the game with a back injury. Daryl Williams moved from right guard to right tackle, Jon Feliciano moved from left guard to right guard and Ike Boettger filled in at left guard.

The offensive line may see more shifting in this week's game due to Sean McDermott announcing that Jon Feliciano is week-to-week with a calf strain. McDermott wants the group to learn from their slow start in Week 8.

"We didn't get off to a good enough start, and eventually we found a rhythm," McDermott said about the offense's performance against Miami. "I would say that's the same with our offensive line. I do appreciate the way that they pass blocked. And then as we kind of got going as an offense, they got going as well.

"And sometimes those work hand-in-hand. You always want to establish a line of scrimmage earlier in the game than what we did, and I think that's an area we can all improve on."

McDermott also announced Brown and Dawson Knox (hand) are improving, but on Monday he wasn't sure about their status for practices this week. The team will have their first practice of the week on Wednesday.

5. Facing another team with one win

For the second week, the Bills will face an opponent with just one win. The Jaguars lost five straight games before winning their first game in Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins. They suffered a 24-point loss to the Seahawks in Week 8 and are now third in the AFC South.

Jacksonville's offense is averaging 17.6 points per game (27th) and 349.3 yards per game (17th). Their passing and rushing offense rank in the middle of the league, but they've struggled to convert third downs doing it only 32.1% of the time (31st).

The Jaguars allow an average of 29 points per game (28th) and 386 total yards per game (26th). They only have two takeaways, which is the least in the NFL and allow quarterbacks to flash by giving up an average of a 74.4% completion percentage (31st) and a 113.5 passer rating (32nd).

When it comes to putting a game plan together to stop Buffalo's average of 32.7 points per game, Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer said it's tricky because you need the bodies to cover their weapons all game.

"You just got to not let him (Josh Allen) pick you apart," Meyer added. "He'll pick you apart in zone and then you got to worry about some of the talent at receiver in man-to-man."

6. Will Josh Allen break the ManningCast losing streak?

Bills quarterback Josh Allen appeared on Peyton and Eli Manning's ManningCast on ESPN2 on Monday to talk about his season and breakdown some of the Monday night game between the Giants and the Chiefs.

A fun opportunity for Allen to get some facetime on a national broadcast and talk to two greats when it comes to NFL quarterbacks, right?

You would think, yes. But maybe, no?

Well, here's the bad news. Every active big-name player who has joined ManningCast has lost the following week.

Yikes. Is the ManningCast curse a real thing? Perhaps because this "curse" has happened five times already.

Let's break it down.

Travis Kelce and Russell Wilson were on in Week 1, they both lost in Week 2. Rob Gronkowski appeared on the show in Week 2 and lost to the Rams in Week 3. Matthew Stafford was on for Week 3 and lost to the Cardinals in Week 4. Tom Brady appeared on the show for Week 7 and lost to the Saints in Week 8.

The odds don't look great. Josh Allen was the sixth well-known active player who appeared on the ManningCast and he could be the one to break the curse with a win on Sunday.

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