Last week, the Bills essentially kissed their playoff hopes goodbye when they fell to Andrew Luck and the Colts. This week, the Bills are playing the lowly Jaguars at home — in front of a crowd with 15,000 seats to spare, meaning the Bills have blacked out locally.
What it Means
This game may be meaningless for the AFC Wild Card race, but this game has many implications on the future of some players and coaches. The Bills have been nothing short of pathetic in a number of categories, especially play-calling. Players such as Fitzpatrick have also been under fire since the beginning of the season. If these players and coaches wish to keep their jobs, their level of play must be intensified, considering they are only facing one opponent over .500 (Seattle Seahawks) in their last 4 games.
The Jaguars have taken off in the last two games after Chad Henne entered the starting lineup. He was sensational in the loss in Houston, but lead his team to victory last week against the Titans. The offensive production from Justin Blackmon has also increased with Henne under center. For the Jaguars, this will be another game to see the potential of their team and weaknesses that need to be addressed.
Matchups to Watch
C.J. Spiller vs. Jaguars Defense
C.J. has consistently been one of the few bright spots for the Bills this season. Only being 170 yards shy of breaking 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, he will be extremely motivated to run all over the Jaguars. It may be somewhat consoling to know that the Jaguars rank 29th in the league for run defense allowing 136 yards per game. With a struggling defense, look for the Bills offensive line open up big holes for Spiller throughout the game.
Quarterbacks vs. Defense
Ryan Fitzpatrick has had another sub-par year, especially when it came time for him to make the big play to win the game. His decision-making in the beginning of the year was absolutely atrocious, but got better throughout the season. However, his accuracy is still very erratic. Last week against the Colts, he missed Spiller and Jones for wide open passes down field that would have resulted in touchdowns. This has been the story all year long, and if he continues to miss passes, the Bills could be in trouble tomorrow, and more importantly, he could lose his job.
Chad Henne on the other hand, has been incredible since taking over for the injured Blaine Gabbert. To some Jaguars fans, Gabbert’s injury may be a blessing in disguise. Chad Henne made an incredible effort in his comeback against Houston, in which he just fell short. Last week, he defeated an AFC South rival, the Tennessee Titans. He has increased the number of touches Blackmon has gotten and has still given the ball to Cecil Shorts. The Jaguars have gained confidence offensively, but the Bills have gained some defensively as well. The Bills are still not able to get off the field on third down, so look for Chad Henne to expose the Bills on third down.
Mario Williams and Jason Babin vs. Offensive Lines
Last week, the Bills were finally able to see the type of play Mario Williams is capable of, recording 3 sacks. Since wrist surgery, Williams has had 5 sacks and is on pace to have at least 10 sacks, the first time a Bill will have double digit sacks since Aaron Schobel in 2009 with 10 sacks. The Jaguars have had leaky pass protection all year, and are not getting any better. Look for Mario Williams to explode off the line in order to prove to Buffalo that he is worth the $100 million.
After being placed on waivers this week, the Jaguars were quick to claim him to hopefully boost the worst defensive pass rush in the league. Although Babin only has 5 sacks this season, it is important to not overlook the fact that he had 18 sacks last season. He may not be having the best season right now, but the Jaguars are hoping that Babin can give them some sort of boost against a relatively stable offensive line in Buffalo.
The Bills Will Win If…
Chan Gailey places the ball in the hands of C.J. Spiller. Chan Gailey’s play calling has been everything from absurd, to awful, to incomprehensible. He has consistently not given the ball to Spiller this season, especially on third down and redzone situations. Quite frankly, it’s getting a little old. Spiller is the answer to the Bills offensive woes, but if he doesn’t get the football, then there is no answer. Defensively, the Bills have to apply pressure on the 28th ranked offensive line the Jaguars have, otherwise Chad Henne will pick apart the Bills secondary.
The Jaguars Will Win If…
Chad Henne can pick apart the Bills. He did it against the Texans, one of the best defenses in the NFL, meaning he can certainly do it against a below average Bills secondary. The Jaguars must stop Spiller. If Spiller can pick up large chunks of yards, then the Jaguars will not be able to stop the Bills offense.
I believe that the Bills, who have disappointed many fans this season, will win this game. I believe that the Bills will be able to apply pressure on Chad Henne and Spiller will have a big game. Chan Gailey’s play-calling will still probably be questionable, but the Bills will still win.
Bills win 23-13. Go Bills!!!