The Bills head to Jacksonville for a playoff game at 1 p.m. Sunday against the AFC South-champion Jaguars (10-6). Here are five things to know about the matchup:
1. Hi, Doug: Let's get this one out of the way first: This game pits the Bills against former coach Doug Marrone, who quit on the team and took a $4 million buyout in his contract after the 2014 season. Marrone took over as Jaguars coach during the 2016 season, after Gus Bradley was fired. Marrone did well in Buffalo, leading the Bills to a 9-7 record in 2014 (which is still tied for their best mark since 1999) but was not liked by players. He also reportedly referred to himself as "Saint Doug," in reference to the fact that it takes two miracles to be canonized as a saint; turning around the Syracuse football program, he thought, was one, and turning around the Bills would be the second.
2. How they got here: The Jaguars earned the AFC's third seed by winning the AFC South and finishing with a 10-6 record. The Patriots and Steelers, champions of the East and North divisions, earned first-round byes as the top two seeds, and the Jaguars beat out the 10-6 Chiefs on a tiebreaker for the third seed due to their conference record. The Jaguars couldn't move up or down in the standings Sunday.
3. Welcome to Sacksonville: That's the nickname the Jaguars have been using this year. They ranked second in the NFL with 55 sacks – one behind the top-ranked Steelers – with 14.5 from Calais Campbell and 12 by Yannick Ngakoue. The Jags' fierce defense was also second in the league in interceptions (21, led by A.J. Bouye's 6), second in points allowed (16.9 per game) and first in forced fumbles (17). Bills QB Tyrod Taylor is known for taking care of the football, but that will be at a premium Sunday.
4. Is Blake Bortles good? That's been a popular question around the league this year. Bortles, the fourth-year quarterback and former third-overall draft pick, had a rough first three years in the league, ranking second in interceptions over that span. But Bortles has begun to turn things around this year, even after top receiver Allen Robinson was lost with an ACL injury in September. Bortles entered Sunday with a 109.8 passer rating in December, second-best over that span, in which he averaged 321 passing yards and completed 68.8 percent of his passes in games against the Colts, Seahawks, Texans and 49ers. The jury is still out on Bortles, and he may be a beatable quarterback for a playoff game, but Sunday's performance could go a long way to swinging public opinion on his ability.
5. Remembering that trade: The Bills traded Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars just before the trade deadline at the end of October. The Bills did well to unload Dareus' massive salary, but he has helped solidify the Jags' run defense. The team gave up 138.6 rushing yards per game before the trade and 98.9 after. The Bills defense hit a major rut shortly after the trade but had played well earlier in the season without Darues, and seemed to find its stride again down the stretch.