Wild Card Round Tale Of The Tape: Buffalo Bills At Jacksonville Jaguars
- QuarterbackThe Bills got the miracle finish they needed when they were victorious in Miami and the Cincinnati Bengals got the best of the Baltimore Ravens in the final seconds. Tyrod Taylor almost never gets the credit he deserves for helping this team turn around, but he had a 14-4 TD-interception ratio and is an excellent leader even if he is not the best pocket passer.At the start of the season, the Jaguars appeared to be a team on the rise that needed to upgrade the quarterback position. Blake Bortles heard those assessments and he picked up his play dramatically, as he completed 60.2 percent of his passes with a 21-13 TD-interception ratio. Bortles has shown he can make big throws at key moments, and now he must show he can do it in the playoffs.
- OffenseThe big question the Bills will face in this game is the condition of superstar running back LeSean McCoy, who had to be carted off the field in Miami as a result of an ankle injury. While he did not suffer a fracture, he is not likely to be at his best. The Bills’ receiving crew is substandard, and they are hoping to use tight end Nick O’Leary as a red zone weaponThe Jaguars were able to put a dependable an even dangerous offense on the field after drafting running back Leonard Fournette last spring. The rookie ran for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns and fumbled just two times. Keelan Cole and Marqise Lee are the Jaguars’ top receivers, and while neither are superstars, both know how to get open and do a nice job after making the catch.
- DefenseThe defense has been an issue throughout the season, as the Bills give up more yardage than they should, but they have a few big-play performers who are capable of turning a game around. Middle linebacker Preston Brown is one of the most dependable players and he led the team with 144 tackles, while safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde each had five interceptions.The primary reason the Jaguars won the AFC South and are in the playoffs is the sensational play of the defense, which finished second in the league during the regular season. They put overwhelming pressure on opposing quarterbacks as Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue combined for 26.5 sacks. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is a top cover man with four interceptions and 21 passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Bills do a solid job at preventing big plays from opposing punt and kickoff return teams, and they have a pair of fine returners in Brandon Tate and Micah Hyde. PK Steven Hauschka is a fine kicker who made 29-of-33 FG attempts and is dependable in the clutch.The Jaguars are an average or below average team when it comes to overall special teams play, and this area has not been a strength for several years. Josh Lambo has steadied the place kicking situation, making 19-of-20 FG attempts, but Brad Nortman is just an ordinary punter.
The Bills will be at a big disadvantage if LeSean McCoy is limited in any way. Their offense will be quite limited, and the Jacksonville defense is likely to dominate.