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Pregame primer: Everything you need to know for Bills-Jaguars, plus five things to watch

 

Last season, the Buffalo Bills' season was basically sunk when team team dropped back-to-back games to the Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars.

With starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor out for both of those games, backup EJ Manuel couldn't lead the Bills to much-needed victory in either game, basically ended any playoff hopes.

This year, the same two opponents have presented themselves on the schedule. The Bills got some revenge against Cincinnati last week, and will look to do the same against Jacksonville on Sunday at New Era Field. A victory would keep the team's postseason hopes alive for another week.

Here is everything you need to know about Sunday's game, plus five things to watch for:

• TV: CBS. Announcers: Andrew Catalon (play by play), Steve Tasker (color analyst).

• Radio: Bills Radio Network. Buffalo-WGR 550 AM; Toronto-Fan 590 AM; Rochester-WCMF 96.5 FM and WROC 950 AM; Syracuse-WTKW 99.5 FM and WTKV 105.5 FM. Announcers: John Murphy (play by play), Mark Kelso (color analyst).

• Series history: Bills lead, 7-6. Last meeting: Oct. 25, 2015 -- 34-31 Jacksonville win in London. The Bills beat the Jaguars, 34-18, the last time the two teams played in Orchard Park, which came during the 2012 season.

• Milestone watch: Tight end Charles Clay needs four receptions to reach 250 for his career and two touchdowns to reach 20.

• Uni watch: The Bills are going back to their blue jerseys – which they haven't worn in a month -- along with white pants against the Jaguars.

• Did you know? Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft and played the first four seasons of his professional career in Western New York. Posluszny has made at least 100 tackles in seven of his first nine NFL seasons.

• Next up: The Bills make their final West Coast trip of the season when they face the Oakland Raiders in a game that could have massive playoff implications -- provided they take care of business against Jacksonville.

Here are five things to watch for against the Jaguars:

1. Just how much can Sammy Watkins do? The Bills' star receiver was activated to the 53-man roster Saturday and is expected to be in the lineup, although offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn cautioned that Wakins will be on a pitch count as he comes back from his foot injury. The Bills desperately need Watkins back as close to 100 percent as possible, especially considering Robert Woods is out with a knee injury and Percy Harvin is questionable for the game because of illness. Even in a limited role, it will be interesting to see whether Watkins resembles the explosive player he was last season, or the tentative receiver he appeared to be the first two weeks.

2. Is Shady limited in any capacity? It seemed surprising to hear coach Rex Ryan declare with so much certainty that running back LeSean McCoy would be ready for a full workload just a week after having minor surgery to fix his located left thumb. McCoy's thumb was wrapped during the portion of practice that was open to the media. It's fair to wonder if the injury will have any impact on how he catches the ball, or how he uses his hands in pass protection.

3. Did Seantrel Henderson blow his show? The Buffalo News reported earlier in the week that Henderson is facing a possible second suspension this season for violating the NFL's drug policy. He's listed as questionable for the game, so it's entirely possible the Bills sit him down and left Jordan Mills and Cyrus Kouandjio rotate at right tackle.

4. Who replaces Robert Blanton? The Bills' safety depth this season has been put to the test, first with the season-ending injury to Aaron Williams and now with the loss of Robert Blanton, who suffered a foot injury last week against the Bengals that has ended his year. That means either James Ihedigbo, who was signed less than two weeks ago, or Jonathan Meeks will start opposite Corey Graham. The Bills also have Sergio Brown on the roster, but he has served mainly as a special-teams player.

5. Can Marcell Dareus dominate again? In the two games he's played this season, Dareus has shown flashes of just how dominant he can be. There were times he controlled the line of scrimmage against the Bengals. If he can do that again against Jacksonville, it should force the Jaguars into obvious passing situations. That's exactly what the Bills want, because Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has been in a giving mood this season with 13 interceptions.

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