How to cage the Jaguars
So while it's Sunday and most of us have to work tomorrow it's still one of my favorite days because it's gameday! Today we get 2 defensive juggernaut teams at 3-7 facing each other in the Jags vs the Bills. Now if defense wins championships these teams should be near the top in the NFL however, that's not the case here today. Either way I think this'll be a good defensive battle. So let's start to break this down.
Weather - it's going to be 45 and cloudy so not a bad day at New Era Field. While the Jags may think it's cold that's not a bad temp this time of year in WNY. I'm curious to see how Leonard Fournette does in this game as he has flat out admitted he hates the cold. So, this could play out in the Bills favor. Winds are only going to be around 12 mph but some swirling winds in the stadium and wind gusts up to 18 mph could cause some additional struggles for both quarterbacks. I think this will be a pretty run offensive game plan for both teams.
Revenge - There's a lot of story lines regarding revenge today. First, you have Doug Marrone who I have a special dislike for. As I'm Syracuse born I was sad to see him leave SU but was thrilled when it was to go coach the Bills. That was until he basically quit the team and left with everyone wondering what just happened. So, I along with the rest of the Bills Mafia would love nothing more than to give Marrone a nice cold reception. You also have Chris Ivory who used to play for the Jags and was released after 2 seasons and came over to the Bills. His last game as a Jaguar was the playoff win against the Bills and he only recorded one carry. Then the Bills signed him and here we are. The Jags felt he was washed up but he has clearly shown some good flashes and that he still has some running in the tank. Clearly he would love nothing more than to put up some great numbers against the Jags today. You also have Dareus but he won't be playing today due to a back injury. Finally, we have Josh Allen vs Jalen Ramsey regarding his "trash" comment about Allen Allen will be back starting today and Ramsey should be lining up against Kelvin Benjamin so that will be an interesting match-up to watch. I'm curious if they attempt to attack Ramsey. While Benjamin carries 4 inches on Ramsey 6'5"vs 6'1" he's still very dangerous and Benjamin has been less than stellar so far so proceed with caution. Ramsey had 2 picks last week against Big Ben.
O-Line - They need to really work today for the Bills. The Bills rank 28th in pass blocking but have looked better since Wyatt Teller started at left guard. Also, the Jags are 2nd in the league defensively with and average of 3.6 YPR allowed on first down. We have to effectively run the ball to have a shot to win. Otherwise Allen could be in for a long day. The Jags have 5 interceptions in the last 3 games and our O-line is 4th in NFL having given up 34 sacks so far this year. This is especially concerning sine the Jags have Yannick Ngakoue who already has 26 sacks in 42 games which is the best in the first 42 games in Jaguars history. Not to mention he also has 10 forced fumbles in that time. The Jags have the 3 best pass defense but we have the number one which leads me to my next topic.
Get the Jaguars down early - I think this is especially important after their collapse last week to the Steelers. Mentally that hurt them as they should have won that game and gave it away. The Bills need to get some points on the board fast and hold strong on defense. If they can start to force the Jags to play catch up this may break their spirit. I'm sure most players are still thinking about the Steerlers game and the Bills need to capitalize on that. The Bills need to and can get some pressure on Bortles (Jags gave up 6 sacks last week) then they can force some long downs and force Bortles to make plays with his arm which is risky. Granted, he hasn't thrown an interception in the last 4 games but in two of those game he only attempted 18 and 12 passes. We all know he is prone to interceptions so if Buffalo can stuff the box and force him to throw I like our chances. He can run and scramble but often times his running can put him in a worse situation then just throwing the ball away.
Final Thoughts - Both teams have great defenses but struggle to score. The Bills are last in the league in scoring and the Jags are 29th. I think this is going to be a low scoring slugfest on the ground. Whoever can establish the run first consistently should pull this out as points will come at a premium today. Both quarterbacks have arms that can stretch the field but that comes at a risk as well as both teams have strong secondaries. This game may result in a lot of turnovers and field goals and if it comes down to the field goals I like the Bills chances. If it somehow turns into a shootout this could be bad for the Bills. Allen will have some rust but a bigger playbook than Barkley had. So, we could see some new plays the Jags have yet to see which could help move the ball. But, consistency is key which has been a huge problem this year so far on offense. However, I think the Bills pull this off in a 17 - 10 game today. Both teams will struggle to move the ball but I think you see the turnovers show up and give good field position to the teams. I love the Bills at home this time of year especially against a team who plays in warm weather It's actually a nice day for a game here and I expect the Bills Mafia out in full force. Both teams desperately need this win but the Jags are banged up on the offensive line and have struggled to protect Bortles so the Bills can get to him and make the plays I love Sunday because it's game day so circle the wagons, beware the stampede, and let's go Buffalo!
(Photo: Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports)