Bills' best chance could be if 'Bad Bortles' shows up - The Buffalo News

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Bills' best chance could be if 'Bad Bortles' shows up

Bills coach Sean McDermott said he spent a lot of time studying the Jaguars, his opponent in Sunday's AFC wild-card game. He looked for weaknesses, and couldn't find any of significance.

"They're a challenge across the board – offense, defense, special teams," McDermott said Wednesday morning. "You look at where they're ranked and where we are, and ask what favors us. Not a whole lot. So we've got our work cut out for us this week to put a good plan in place and have a good week of practice."

The Jags lead the NFL in rushing and are sixth overall on offense. They're second in scoring TDs in the red zone. They're first in pass defense and yards per play against. They're second in sacks, interceptions and red-zone TD defense. They're second in the AFC in point differential at plus 149. The Bills are minus 57, the worst of any playoff team.

But the one possible edge the Bills could have is at quarterback – depending on which Blake Bortles shows up. Bortles was seen as a major impediment to the Jags' playoff chances before the season. Fans wanted him out of town after his ragged performance for a 3-13 Jacksonville team a year ago.

But Bortles has played much better this season. He's had five of his eight top-rated games this season, including a three-game stretch in December when he completed 71 percent of his passes for 903 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions in wins over the Colts, Seahawks and Texans. He slipped to 56 percent with two TDs and five picks in their current two-game losing streak.

Bortles has a tendency to take risks down the field. He has thrown 47 picks over the last three seasons. Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor has thrown only 16 during that time. McDermott was asked if his secondary might have some opportunities for takeaways against Bortles.

"Like any situation, in a QB-driven league, we've got to do a good job of affecting the quarterback with our defense," McDermott said. "Give him different looks and get him out of a rhythm, like any quarterback. He's had a good year."

In Jacksonville, Jags coach Doug Marrone was asked about the criticism that Bortles has received. His response: "I don't care." He also noted that Bortles is used to the criticism because it has been "happening quite a bit."

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