JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The wait is almost over.
A day short of the 18-year anniversary of the Music City Miracle, the Buffalo Bills make their long-awaited return to the postseason Sunday when they visit the Jaguars at EverBank Field.
Here's all you need to know for the game, plus five things we'll be watching for:
• TV: CBS. Announcers: Jim Nantz (play by play), Tony Romo (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).
• Bills injury report: Out: CB Shareece Wright (concussion). Questionable: RB LeSean McCoy (ankle), LB Matt Milano (hamstring), RT Jordan Mills (ankle), WR Deonte Thompson (shoulder), QB Joe Webb (ankle) Jaguars injury report: Questionable: WR Marqise Lee (ankle), RB T.J. Yeldon (illness).
• Point spread: The Bills are 8.5-point underdogs at footballlocks.com.
• Did you know? Linebacker Preston Brown led the NFL with 144 tackles, a single-season high for the fourth-year veteran out of Louisville. Brown has 504 tackles since entering the league in 2014, which is second most in the NFL.
• Next up: The Bills will either clean out their lockers, or get ready for a trip to New England to meet the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs. Seriously.
Here are five things to watch against the Jaguars:
1. What can Shady do? The biggest question this week for the Bills surrounds the ankle injury to running back LeSean McCoy. Will he be able to play? If so, will he be his usual cut-on-dime self? The thinking here is that it would be a major surprise if McCoy wasn't active for the game. Perhaps he goes out on the first series and decides he simply can't run the way he needs to, leaving Marcus Murphy and Mike Tolbert to handle the load. It's hard to imagine McCoy completely missing a game of this magnitude, though. It's worth noting that Murphy did average 5.9 yards per carry last week against Miami, so he's got some pop.
2. Can Ramon Humber step up? I'm reasonably confident McCoy will try to play and equally as pessimistic that rookie linebacker Matt Milano will be available. He did not practice all week with a hamstring injury, and even though he's listed as questionable, coach Sean McDermott did not sound overly optimistic that Milano would be ready to go. That means more snaps for Humber, who started the year as a starter, but eventually was unseated. He'll be a big part of the run defense, which faces a challenge in Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette. The Bills have to try and limit Fournette on early downs and force Jacksonville into passing situations.
3. Can the offensive line hold up? The big men up front face a huge challenge Sunday in what promises to be a loud stadium, starting with rookie left tackle Dion Dawkins lining up against Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, who has 14.5 sacks this year and is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. On the interior, there is the juicy matchup of Richie Incognito and Eric Wood going up against former teammate Marcell Dareus. Both sides tried to downplay that matchup all week, but there is no doubt it will be heated inside whenever Dareus is in the game. Wood and Incognito might not say so publicly, but every player in the Bills' locker room should feel burned by Dareus, who checked out almost immediately after getting paid.
4. Can the Bills force Blake Bortles into mistakes? The Jacksonville quarterback has thrown more interceptions than anyone else in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014. Even this season, his 13 interceptions were fifth most in the NFL, and that was an improvement over his previous three seasons. The Jaguars are 2-6 this season when Bortles throws at least one interception and 8-0 in games he doesn't throw a pick. Bortles is also relying on a pair of rookie receivers in Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, both of whom have had some issues with drops recently. The Bills' secondary has been opportunistic all season, and needs to make the play if Bortles puts the ball up for grabs. One other matchup to watch is Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes going against Jaguars rookie left tackle Cam Robinson, who has been dealing with an abdominal injury.
5. Can the receivers keep their cool? The Jaguars' secondary is loaded with talented players who have no problem telling opponents how good they are. Think back to Bengals receiver A.J. Green grabbing Jalen Ramsey by the neck and throwing him to the ground earlier this season for an example of how the Jaguars try to get under the skin of their opponents. The Bills' receivers know what's coming in that regard. They just can't get caught up in it, because the offense isn't good enough to deal with 15-yard penalties.
Story topics: Deonte Thompson/ Dion Dawkins/ Eric Wood/ Jerry Hughes/ Joe Webb/ Jordan Mills/ LeSean McCoy/ Marcell Dareus/ Marcus Murphy/ Matt Milano/ Mike Tolbert/ Preston Brown/ Ramon Humber/ Richie Incognito/ Sean McDermott