Here are how my five takes before the Buffalo Bills' 28-21 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday worked out:
1. Leave no doubt from the outset that the better team is playing at home. Not quite. The Bills left plenty of doubt early on as the Jaguars took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 11 plays to a 2-yard Chris Ivory touchdown run.
The Jags also did a good job of keeping the Bills off the scoreboard -- and the Bills did their share to harm their own scoring cause with a terrible offensive showing -- until the final 20 seconds of the half to allow Jacksonville to hold a 7-6 halftime advantage.
The Jaguars dominated on the ground, as their offensive line created big holes through which Ivory exploded to generate 44 yards (and average 4.9 yards per carry) before leaving the game late in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Blake Bortles also was killing the Bills with his legs on the way to rushing for 81 yards on eight plays (an average of 10.1 yards per attempt), including a 27-yarder.
It wasn't until the second half that the Bills turned it on offensively and defensively ... and still had to stage a final defensive stand to win the game.
2. Give Mike Gillislee a healthy amount of carries. Scratch this one, because Gillislee was scratched from the lineup with a hamstring injury he suffered in practice last Wednesday. As it turned out, the Bills didn't have to be overly cautious with McCoy, despite the fact he underwent surgery to repair his dislocated thumb right after the Bills returned from last Sunday's win at Cincinnati.
McCoy ran for 103 yards, 75 coming on a career-best touchdown run on the first snap of the third quarter. He also scored on a seven-yard run late in the first half. He ran 19 times and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. McCoy also caught two passes for 31 yards.
Tyrod Taylor ran for 38 yards and a score, while rookie Jonathan Williams contributed 12 to give the Bills 153 rushing yards on the day.
3. Marcell Dareus puts together two dominant games in a row. Check-plus! Dareus by far had the best of the three games he has played for the Bills this season, with two sacks, three tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits. He had eight tackles and was generally the game's most impactful defensive player.
Dareus developed what Rex Ryan described as an "abdominal issue" and wasn't on the field for the Jaguars' final two possessions.
4. The secondary's big game can't be an anomaly. Semi-check. Yes, Bortles threw two touchdown passes, but he had more success running than throwing. He finished with 13 completions in 26 attempts for 126 yards.
Stephon Gilmore did an excellent job in coverage, and the Bills could have done much worse in trying to overcome the absence of their other cornerback, Ronald Darby, who left the game in the first quarter with a concussion.
5. Tyrod Taylor makes better use of Charles Clay and Nick O'Leary. Nope. Given the heavy amount of zone the Jaguars play in their secondary, the Bills' tight ends figured to have plenty of opportunities to catch passes. For the most part, they did, but Taylor just didn't consistently find them.
Clay was targeted four times and caught only two passes for 17 yards, while O'Leary had only one target and no catches.
The only receiving performance worth noting was the one belonging to Sammy Watkins, who caught all three of the passes thrown his way for 80 yards, 62 on a third-quarter reception that set up a touchdown that gave the Bills a 20-14 lead.