Share this article

print logo

Pregame primer: 5 things to watch when Bills host Jaguars

Everything you need to know, plus what I’ll be watching for Sunday when the Buffalo Bills host the Jacksonville Jaguars:

TV: CBS. Announcers: Spero Dedes (play by play), Adam Archuleta (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, 8-6. The Bills have won three of four last regular-season meetings between the teams, with the lone loss in that stretch coming in 2015 in London in the EJ Manuel meltdown game.

Bills injury report: Out: QB Derek Anderson (concussion). Doubtful: TE Charles Clay (hamstring). Questionable: C Russell Bodine (shoulder), CB Taron Johnson (shoulder), DE Trent Murphy (knee), Shaq Lawson (elbow). Jaguars injury report: Out: WR DJ Chark Jr. (quad), DE Lerentee McCray (hamstring), CB Quenton Meeks (knee), OL Josh Walker (foot/ankle). Questionable: DT Eli Ankou (calf), OL A.J. Cann (hamstring), DT Marcell Dareus (back).

Point spread: The Bills are three-point underdogs at footballlocks.com.

Did you know? Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll attended St. Francis High School together.

Next up: Warm weather! The Bills are going to Miami to face the Dolphins at 1 p.m. next Sunday.

Here are five things to watch against the Jaguars:

1. What does Josh Allen look like? Undoubtedly, the most intriguing part of the final six games for the Bills is Allen’s play. The rookie quarterback is expected to return to the lineup after missing four games because of a sprained throwing elbow. Allen said during the week that he’s confident in making every throw. Allen’s play before getting hurt was uneven to put it kindly. He needs to show significant growth over the final six weeks.

2. Can the new-look receiver corps continue to make plays? Undrafted rookie Robert Foster became the Bills’ first 100-yard receiver in the win against the Jets. Veteran Deonte Thompson was brought back for another stint with the team during the bye week. He figures to get plenty of playing time Sunday. Although Thompson does not fit into the Bills’ youth movement, his re-signing shows that the team wants to continue adding more speed at receiver. The Jaguars have one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL in Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. Trying to make plays against them will be a good test for Allen and the new wide receivers.

3. Can the secondary take the ball away? Most of the blame for the Jaguars' poor start this season has been put on quarterback Blake Bortles. He’s known to be interception-prone, which bodes well for an opportunistic Buffalo secondary. Winning the turnover battle is particularly important for the Bills, given their struggle on offense most of the season. When Bortles gives them opportunities, they need to take advantage of them.

4. What does Marcell Dareus do against his old team (if anything)? Dareus is listed as questionable heading into Sunday’s game because of a back injury but is expected to play. The former No. 3 overall draft pick of the Bills has settled into a two-down, run-stuffing role. His teammates are saying all the right things publicly about Dareus’ presence in the locker room, but it’s highly unlikely that the Jaguars will be interested in bringing him back next season at nearly $10 million to be a role player. Dareus’ career in Buffalo was marred by suspensions and off-the-field incidents. He provided a terrible return on investment after signing a contract extension worth up to $96 million. He likely will be met with a chorus of boos at New Era Field on Sunday.

5. What kind of effort does Doug Marrone’s team give? The Jaguars have spiraled to 3-7 on the season under the former Bills’ coach. That includes a devastating blown lead last week against Pittsburgh. Jacksonville likely needs to run the table to make the playoffs a season after appearing in the AFC Championship Game. Marrone has his work cut out for him in keeping his team motivated after what has been such a disappointing season. There would be something poetic about the Jaguars quitting against the team from which Marrone walked away.

Story topics: / / / / / / / / / / / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment