The Buffalo Bills will travel to EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida to take on the Jaguars in the AFC wild-card round. This game will kick off at 1:05 PM/ET.
Perhaps the most unlikely playoff team in recent memory, the Buffalo Bills snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. The Bills needed to win against Miami, and for the Ravens to lose as well. As luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened. Now the Bills find themselves in uncharted waters.
For the first time in over a decade, Buffalo is in the playoffs and anything can happen once a team gets there. Most don’t expect this Bills team to make it out of the wild-card round, but stranger things have happened.
The Jaguars are back in the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. This Jaguars team is one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season. The Jaguars are an old school, smash mouth style team. On offense, they have the leagues best rushing attack. On defense, they boast the leagues best pass defense. It’s a winning combination, and it’s working for them.
The Jaguars captured the AFC South and are the AFC’S number three seed. So, all’s great then! Not so fast. Jacksonville didn’t end the season on a high note. After losing two straight games, are the Jaguars running out of the steam at worst possible moment?
It’s all gravy for Bills’ fans.
Step one: make the playoffs. Step Two: no clue. Before the season no one expected the Bills to have this opportunity. The Bills haven’t gone to the postseason in a long time. In fact, they haven’t gone this century.
It’s easy to think that the Bills have nothing else to play for. After all, no one expected them to make it. If Buffalo gets blown out by the Jaguars, at least they tasted the playoffs and have positive momentum going into the offseason and then 2018. The Bills, however, might make more noise than people think.
According to NFL Stats, the Bills rushing attack ranks 6th in the league. Now, those numbers included a healthy LeSean McCoy, and while McCoy might play he’s certainly not at a hundred percent. That hurts the Bills chances a lot. If McCoy plays in this game and is effective, then Buffalo is the perfect team to upset the Jaguars.
Here’s why: While Jacksonville has the leagues best pass defense, their run defense is far weaker. According to NFL Stats, the Jaguars run defense ranks 21st in the NFL. If the Bills don’t have McCoy, then they’ll need to rely on their other running backs to carry the load.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, their other two backs have played a limited role in the offense this season. Their best option is to turn to Mike Tolbert. Tolbert at 250 pounds and at only 5’9” is a completely different kind of back than McCoy. Tolbert, however, has experience being a workhorse and his punishing style of running matches up well against Jacksonville’s soft run defense.
The Jaguars enter the playoffs on a two-game losing streak.
Three weeks ago, the Jaguars beat the Texans 45-7 and were nipping at the heels of the AFC’s number two seed. Then over the last two weeks, Jacksonville lost both of their games. The first loss came in a shootout with the surging 49ers, the second came last week against division rival Tennessee.
In their loss to Tennessee, the Jaguars managed to score only 10 points. Despite having nothing to play for in week 17 (they were already the AFC’s number three seed), the Jaguars played their starters and lost. That type of poor effort can carry over to the playoffs if teams aren’t careful.
That’s not to say Jacksonville cannot turn things around and start winning, especially against a wounded Bills squad, but the facts remain; no team wants to roll into the playoffs on a losing streak when every game now becomes win or go home. For a Jaguars squad that hasn’t tasted postseason success in a decade, that’s a lot of pressure.
Jaguars vs Bills Betting Lines
The Jaguars have lacked a sense of urgency over the final two weeks of the season. When teams sleepwalk like this into the playoffs, it’s almost impossible for them to wake up when the game and their postseason futures are on the line. With that said, the Bills would have to overcome even more than Jacksonville. If the Buffalo can contain the Jaguars rushing attack, then they’ll have a shot in this game. The Bills will need to the force Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles into making mistakes. Bortels on the year has thrown 13 interceptions. Buffalo doesn’t even need interceptions to stay in this game, they just need an inaccurate Borteles. Without LeSean McCoy, don’t expect Buffalo to pull off the miracle, but the Bills will do just enough to keep this game close and cover the spread.
Play: Bills +9 @ BetOnline.ag