Sunday, November 25, 2007
1:00 p.m., Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Kickoff Temperature: 68 degrees, 30% chance of precipitation
Line: Jaguars by 6.5
Buffalo offense- 31st overall (19th rushing, 29th passing); Scoring-28th- 15.3 ppg. Vs. Jacksonville defense- 24th overall (14th rushing, 27th passing); Scoring- 8th- 18.1
The Buffalo Bills offense is fairly similar in theory to that of the Jaguars. They like to establish the run to set up the pass. The Bills start a standout rookie at running back in Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is a solid every downs back who can run between the tackles, and has enough speed to turn the corner. Lynch would be getting a lot more publicity if it wasn't for record-setting rookie Adrian Peterson out in Minnesota. The Bills rookie missed their last game due to an ankle injury, and it is unclear at this time whether or not he'll suit up in Jacksonville on Sunday. Lynch runs behind a solid offensive line in which the Bills spent a lot of money to put together. Guard Derrick Dockery and right tackle Langston Walker were big free agent acquisitions to go along with Jason Peters, Melvin Fowler, and Brad Butler.
When the Bills throw the football, they do so behind the right arms of either J.P. Losman or rookie Trent Edwards. Bills head coach Dick Jauron has been bouncing between the two quarterbacks on a weekly basis. Either Losman or Edwards will be throwing to Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish, Peerless Price, and Josh Reed. Evans has turned himself into one of the best receivers in the NFL as he is a legitimate deep threat, and he isn't afraid to go over the middle. Parrish is a very small, speedy receiver who must be accounted for every time he lines up. Price and Reed are mostly possession guys. Tight end Robert Royal is occasionally used in the passing game.
If the Jaguars can stop the run with their base seven, the secondary should match up well against the Buffalo receivers. If Marshawn Lynch can't go for Buffalo, the Jaguars should have an easier time stopping his veteran backup, Anthony Thomas. The Jaguars defense should be able to contain a Buffalo offense that has some instability at quarterback, a possible backup running back, and an offensive line that is pretty average.
The Jaguars will likely try to flex their offensive muscles by running the football against a Buffalo front four that has historically worked best in pass rushing situations, despite a thus far poor showing this season. The Bills defensive line is made up of defensive ends Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay, and tackles Larry Tripplett and Kyle Williams. Schobel is a fantastic pass rusher as he is second on the Bills all-time list in sacks with 63. The Bills have forced just eight fumbles this season which ranks them tied for 25th in the NFL.
The Bills line backing corps is young, led by Angelo Crowell who has been with the team for five years. Playing opposite Crowell is Keith Ellison and Jon DiGiorgio. The Bills have a talented secondary led by corners Terrance McGee and Ashton Youboty. Safeties Donte Whitner and Jim Leonhard are hard hitters, who can play the football in air. Buffalo is tied for sixth in the NFL with 12 interceptions on the season, mostly from their ball-hawking secondary.
Buffalo may have to put an extra defender in the box to stop the Jaguars powerful rushing attack. If they do, there will be some plays to be had downfield. The Jaguars should be able to do whatever they want against one of the worst ranked defenses in the NFL. Buffalo's pass rush has been non-existent this year as they're ranked dead last in the NFL with just nine sacks.
Bills kickoff return- 14th (23.5 ypr.); punt return- 1st (18.3 ypr.); punting- 20th (42.9 gross); net punting- 8th (40.4 avg.); kickoff coverage- 8th (21.3 ypr. allowed); punt coverage- 5th (6.4 ypr. allowed).
Jaguars kickoff return- 4th (25.3 ypr.); punt return- 15th (9.6 ypr.); punting- T26th (41.7 gross); net punting- T23rd (38.2 avg.); kickoff coverage- 1st (16.9 ypr. allowed); punt coverage- 9th (7.1 ypr. allowed).
PK Rian Lindell, P Brian Moorman, LS Mike Schneck, PR Roscoe Parrish, KR Terrance McGee
Lindell is 15/17 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. McGee is averaging 25.8 yards per kickoff return. Parrish is averaging 19.4 yards per punt return, which leads the NFL.
PK Josh Scobee, P Adam Podlesh, LS Joe Zelenka, PR Dennis Northcutt, and KR Maurice Jones-Drew
Scobee is 2/2 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. Jones-Drew is averaging 27.8 yards per kickoff return. Northcutt is averaging 10.4 yards per punt return.
If Buffalo has an advantage anywhere in this game it is in special teams. Terrance McGee is dangerous on kickoff returns, and Roscoe Parrish is currently leading the NFL in punt returns. The Bills coverage units are very good, and their punter, Brian Moorman, has been to several Pro Bowls. Special teams are what decided the game between these two teams last season, as the Jaguars allowed a punt returned for a touchdown, and missed a few field goals which propelled the Bills to a 27-24 victory in Orchard Park.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.