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Jags game could be J.P.'s last stand

Column as I see 'em:

*It's no surprise to hear Dick Jauron will stick with J.P. Losman as his starting quarterback for the Jacksonville game. Jauron couldn't yank Losman based on Sunday night's debacle against the Patriots. Losman was bad, but so was the whole Bills team.

The Jacksonville game could be decisive for Losman, who has played poorly in four of the last five games he started and finished. This is the sort of game where you judge a QB -- on the road, against a fellow playoff contender with a strong defense. They likely need a win to keep their modest playoff hopes alive.

My guess is that Losman will remain the starter as long as the Bills don't fall below .500. If he plays the way he did in Miami, Jauron will be justified to make the move to Trent Edwards.

*The Bills say they weren't miffed when the Patriots went for it twice on fourth down with a big lead. As Losman said, football is a tough game. This is the pros, not high school. Teams aren't obligated to go for field goals out of sympathy for the opposition.

Still, Bill Belichick is taking a risk by piling it on. He's on a crusade against the NFL after the videotaping scandal. But what if some aggrieved coach orders his players to take a cheap shot at Tom Brady? If Brady gets hurt because of his coach's hubris, the Pats lose in the end.

So which of Buffalo's $50 million athletes has done more to justify his salary -- Aaron Schobel or Thomas Vanek? Schobel has two sacks in 10 games. He had 14 a year ago. Vanek has four goals in 18 games after netting 43 last season. Let's just say Buffalo fans aren't getting much bang for the $100 million.

*When Jonny Flynn hit that 28-foot bomb to beat Saint Joseph's last week, I was reminded of another memorable shot by a Syracuse freshman point guard -- Pearl Washington's half-court shot that beat Boston College at the buzzer in 1984. Flynn, the former Niagara Falls star, scored 28 points in his debut against Siena to set a freshman record.

*Maxim Afinogenov hasn't scored in seven games. He hasn't been a plus player in a game since Oct. 13. During that 14-game stretch, he's a minus-14. How bad does it have to get before Lindy Ruff benches Afinogenov, the way he did in the playoffs? I suppose the league's boring defensive style is to blame.

*It's hard to believe Missouri, my alma mater, could be three wins from winning college football's national title. Saturday's game against unbeaten Kansas is the Tigers' biggest in 38 years. I'm still mad at Kansas for beating Mizzou in the final game of my senior year in 1976 and costing it a bowl game, back when a bowl actually meant something.

*The Celtics are the biggest story of the early NBA season. But Sunday's loss to Orlando, their first of the season, exposed their biggest weakness: Front-court defense. The Magic got solid performances from all three front-court starters (Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard) in a 104-102 win. The Magic shot over 50 percent and got to the line 44 times.

*Early in the season, I actually heard people saying, "If Chris Drury is so valuable, how come the Rangers aren't winning?" As if anything could diminish what Drury did in Buffalo. Well, heading into Monday's game with the Islanders, the Rangers had won nine of 10 to surge to the top of the Atlantic. Next, they'll tell me Drury isn't scoring.

*Smart move by Alex Rodriguez, separating himself from Scott Boras to reopen talks with the Yankees. Of course, I wouldn't put it past Boras to orchestrate the strategy. Word is, A-Rod consulted investment guru Warren Buffett (who owns this newspaper) for advice. Maybe he can talk to Buffett and get me a raise.

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