Game Preview: Jaguars vs Bills

With the Jaguars dropping their season-opener in Tennessee 17-10 last Sunday and a trip to Indianapolis looming a week from this Sunday, the team's home opener against Buffalo is almost a must-win situation.

Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, September 14, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, FL

Records: Buffalo 1-0, Jacksonville 0-1

Series history: Buffalo leads 4-3 (regular season), Jacksonville won the only playoff meeting. Last season: Jacksonville won, 36-14.

Buffalo offense 11th overall (8th passing, 19th rushing); Scoring- T4th- 34.0 ppg. vs. Jacksonville defense 16th overall (14th passing, 20th rushing); Scoring- T13th- 17.0 ppg.

The Buffalo Bills have a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball, but not very many household names. Buffalo has handed the reigns at quarterback over to Trent Edwards, who is a former third-round pick (2007) that throws a pretty deep ball and is accurate underneath. Edwards was efficient in the season opener as he completed 63% of his passes and had a QB rating of 95.8.

The Bills running attack is featured around Marshawn Lynch, who is a poor man's version of LaDainian Tomlinson. Lynch had better than 1100 yards a year ago while playing in just 13 games. He benefits greatly from what could be the best Buffalo offensive line since the glory days when they were winning AFC Championships.

The Buffalo passing game is an underrated one, as they have a receiver with Pro Bowl ability in Lee Evans, along with Josh Reed (possession guy), and the ultra-speedy Roscoe Parrish. Throw in rookie James Hardy and this is a very good group.

Best offensive matchup for Buffalo:
Lee Evans vs. Drayton Florence. Florence was toasted repeatedly last week by Justin Gage, and Evans is 10X the receiver that Gage is.

Best defensive matchup for Jacksonville:
Justin Durant vs. Robert Royal. Last season the Jaguars were exposed early and often by opposing tight ends, but Durant is one of the fastest LB's in the league, and Royal is not a major threat in the passing game.

Jacksonville offense 30th overall (24th passing, 32nd rushing); Scoring- T26th, 10.0 ppg. vs. Buffalo defense 7th overall (11th passing, 9th rushing); Scoring- T3rd- 10.0 ppg.

The Jacksonville offense looks like a different unit from a week ago, as they will be trying to be successful without three-fifths of their starting offensive line. In the season opener, guard Vince Manuwai suffered a torn ACL which will cost him the 2008 season, and guard Maurice Williams ruptured a biceps, which could cost him the season. It's going to be a patchwork line for the Jaguars on Sunday until center Brad Meester is healthy enough to return to the lineup.

Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is coming off a career year, as he finished third in the NFL in passer rating (102.2). Garrard had a bad game in the season opener, as he threw two interceptions, was sacked seven times, and fumbled once. The good news for Jaguars fans is that Garrard hasn't played two poor games in a row in quite some time, so many are expecting a better performance this week. At this point it is unclear if WR Jerry Porter will play on Sunday, but Garrard still has Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, a motivated Matt Jones, who led the team in receiving during week one, Mike Walker, and speedster Troy Williamson. Tight end Marcedes Lewis appears poised for a big season, and his 6'7" frame will cause big matchup problems for opposing linebackers or safeties.

The Buffalo Bills defense has solid players all over who aren't yet household names. One of the names that Jaguars fans will know is that of Marcus Stroud, who is now anchoring the Buffalo defense. On the outside, the Bills have fantastic pass rushers in Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel, and a very solid middle linebacker in Paul Posluszny.

You can bet that the Bills will try to load up the line of scrimmage against an offensive line of backups, and force David Garrard to beat them through the air.

Matching up against the Jaguars wide receivers will be corners Terrance McGee and Jabari Greer, with first-round pick Leodis McKelvin entering in nickel situations. Safeties Ko Simpson and the hard-hitting Donte Whitner cover ground and punish receivers over the middle. The Buffalo secondary has the potential to be one of the best in the league.

Best offensive matchup for Jacksonville:
Tight end Marcedes Lewis vs. either of the Bills linebackers. Lewis is a huge target with enough speed to get in the seam and he has great hands. He should exploit the middle of the football field against a very average set of backers.

Best defensive matchup for Buffalo: Marcus Stroud vs. Dennis Norman/Tutan Reyes. Stroud will be plenty motivated for this matchup and it's a shaky situation with backups on the interior of the Jags line.

Special Teams

Buffalo: P Brian Moorman, PK Rian Lindell, PR Roscoe Parrish, KR Terrence McGee, PR/KR Leodis McKelvin.

Jacksonville: PK Josh Scobee, P Adam Podlesh, LS Joe Zelenka, KOR Maurice Jones-Drew/Brian Witherspoon, PR Dennis Northcutt/Brian Witherspoon

Special teams advantage: These may be the best two special teams units in the NFL, as both teams have explosive return men, and great coverage units. Buffalo has an advantage at both kicker and punter.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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