A quarter-century ago, the Jaguars pulled off an all-time upset win over the Bills in the AFC wild card round. For the modern day Jaguars to win this Sunday, It would take an upset of even greater proportions. While the Jaguars are 1-6 under first-year head coach Urban Meyer, the Bills are 5-2 and looking to further their 1.5-game lead over the Patriots in the AFC East division standings.
Buffalo is coming off of its second convincing win of the season over Miami. The Bills' 26-11 win last week was a complete team victory; Buffalo's offense churned out 351 total yards, while its defense allowed just 268 yards while forcing two turnovers. Conversely, the Jaguars are coming off what was arguably their worst loss of the season, a 31-7 defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
We'll preview the game along with giving our prediction for Sunday's outcome. Here's how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch
When the Bills have the ball
Buffalo's rushing attack may be tested against a Jaguars defense that is third in the league in fewest yards per carry allowed. While the Bills won't abandon the run, expect them to test the Jaguars' 28th-ranked pass defense early and often. Buffalo's offense has a sizable advantage on third down, as it is second in the NFL in third-down efficiency. Conversely, the Jaguars have the 31st-ranked third-down defense. This could lead to a long day for Jacksonville's defense, especially if Allen gets in an early rhythm.
The Jaguars' defense will have to pick its poison as it relates to who to try to stop. Stefon Diggs leads the Bills with 503 receiving yards, but right behind him are fellow wideouts Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley, who both have 413 receiving yards. Jacksonville's defense continues to be led by defensive end Josh Allen, who enters Sunday's game with 4.5 sacks, 31 tackles and six tackles for loss.
When the Jaguars have the ball
Trevor Lawrence and the rest of the Jaguars' offense has the unenviable task of facing the NFL's top-ranked defense, led by defensive backs Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. The Bills' defense is tied for 14th in the NFL in sacks and has surrendered several big plays in its losses to Pittsburgh and Tennessee. If the Jaguars have any chance at upsetting the Jaguars, Jacksonville will have to protect Lawrence while giving him a chance to make some plays downfield as well as with his legs.
The Jaguars will likely lean on their rushing attack that is led by James Robinson and Carlos Hyde. Lawrence will also have to get in rhythm with his top two receivers, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones. Like their defense, the Jaguars' offense has to convert on its share of first downs, which will not be easy against the NFL's second-ranked third-down defense. Decent chunks of yardage on first and second downs can help accomplish this goal.
Don't be surprised if this game is closer than expected, at least for the first two or three quarters. The Jaguars' defense has made strides, while their offense is starting to find an identity with Lawrence. But the Bills' immense talent should ultimately rise to the top, even if it takes a while to show itself.
Score: Bills 31, Jaguars 17