Who: Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9)
When: Sunday December 15, 1:00 PM EST
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
The Line: Buffalo (-4.5)
Buffalo Bills Offense vs. Jags Defense
The Jags are surprisingly hot these days, having won three in a row for the first time since 2010 and four of five. Their defense has played merely okay, and statistically they are near the bottom against both the run and the pass.
Thankfully for them, the Bills are near the bottom passing the ball. E.J. Manuel tossed four picks last week and looked generally like a rookie in a rough 27-6 loss. When pressured, like most quarterbacks, he tends to make a ton of mistakes. Keeping him clean has always been the key, and that will be no different on Sunday.
Also thankfully for the Jags, the Bills’ running game has been bipolar of late. Yes, they are fifth in the NFL with 133.6 rushing yards per game, but they seem to always be dealing with the struggles of the sometimes-dynamic C.J. Spiller. One week he’s ripping off huge runs, the next he’s averaging two yards per carry. Which Spiller shows up this week? Does Fred Jackson finally have a breakout performance or does he grind out his 50-ish yards and a few catches?
As always, the team goes as the running game goes. It’s just how the offense is built right now for better or worse.
Key: Bills Running Game vs. Bad Jags Defense
Bills Defense vs. Jags Offense
Over the last few weeks, Chad Henne and company have actually managed to light up the scoreboard to the tune of 32 and 27 points respectively. They also had 29 in a Week 10 win over the Titans.
Still, statistically they are the worst rushing team in the league and 25th in passing. This should be an ideal game for the Bills defense. They suck against the run (26th), excel against the pass and have arguably the most dangerous pass rush in the game thanks to Mario Williams and his band of quarterback eaters.
But we all know what happens to this team when I have expectations for it. Maurice Jones-Drew will no doubt rip off a rare (for this season, anyway) 100+ yard effort and the Bills won’t be able to get a stop when they need it because they can’t stop the run.
At this point, I don’t even know if that’s reverse psychology or sheer pessimism. You be the judge.
Key: Run Defense vs. Stop Someone, Please Part Deux
There’s no way I come close to nailing every prediction again like I did last week against Tampa, so we’ll just predict MJD for 100 yards and get that out of the way.
This will be one of those games where Manuel looks like the franchise quarterback we all envisioned and hoped he’d be, temporarily getting our hopes up before the next crash.
Spiller comes alive for a play or two before going back to grinding out next to nothing.
The Bills defense, and Williams in specific, build on their sack total by adding another three.
Prediction: 27-20 Buffalo