Buffalo at Jacksonville; Game Preview

Breakdown preview of the Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars battle in week-two of the NFL season.

Buffalo Bills (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Don Criqui, Steve Tasker
SERIES: 4th meeting. The Bills hold a 2-1 regular season series edge although the Jaguars won a 1996 wild card meeting between the clubs. The Bills beat the Jaguars, 13-10, in 2001 in the last meeting.
2003 RANKINGS: Bills: offense 15th (13th rush, 16th pass); defense 5th (21st rush, 7th pass). Jaguars: offense 12th (23rd rush, 6th pass); defense 6th (23rd rush, 5th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars want to rotate DEs Tony Brackens and Hugh Douglas more often after they wore down in the second half last Sunday. Jacksonville also needs a better performance from LB Kevin Mitchell, who had trouble stopping the toss sweep against Carolina. He will be tested early, because Buffalo expects big plays in the passing game if it can establish the run first. The Bills will focus on shutting down Jaguars RB Fred Taylor, but QB Mark Brunell proved in the opener that he can still move the ball downfield without favorite target WR Jimmy Smith. He will attempt to complete a high-percentage of short passes to set up the occasional home run shot downfield.
FAST FACTS: Bills: CB Nate Clements has recorded an interception in three consecutive games dating to last season. ... The team is 4-1 when RB Travis Henry scores at least two touchdowns. ... The Bills lead the series 2-1. Jaguars: The team has a 38-18 home record since the start of the 1996 season.

PREDICTED SCORE: Bills 27, Jaguars 24

   --DT Sam Adams' 37-yard interception return of a Tom Brady pass was named play of the week in the NFL.
   --KR Antonio Brown, who struggled against New England, will face a Jacksonville team that allowed 210 return yards on punts and kicks in a loss to Carolina. The Jags are juggling their coverage men this week after a rash of injuries.
   --SS Coy Wire, who lost his starting job to veteran Lawyer Milloy, will be used as a designated blitzer. The coaches love his speed and aggressiveness and his presence would give teams something else to worry about. Meanwhile, he remains one of the Bills best special teams hitters.
   --WR Eric Moulds was shocked to be flagged for taunting against New England. He spun the football Globetrotter style on the field after a third-down catch. "There trying to cut back on guys celebrating, I understand, but it's taking some of the fun away," Moulds said. "They said I spun it near a group of guys, but I thought they were walking back to their huddle. Those things happen and I'll have to live with it."
   --TE Mark Campbell earned the start against New England and caught three passes for 24 yards. Campbell, acquired in a trade with the Browns, is eager to show he's more than just a blocker and he has quickly developed a good feel with QB Drew Bledsoe.
   --CB Antoine Winfield tied for the team lead against New England with 12 tackles, a good start to his contract year.

   --WR Micah Ross is doubtful with an ankle injury and probably won't play against Buffalo. He'll be missed on special teams.
   --DE Brandon Green was upgraded from questionable to probable with a strained quadriceps and coach Jack Del Rio said he practiced Thursday. It's uncertain if he'll be activated for the game.
   --DB James Trapp was downgraded from probable to questionable with an ankle injury. He didn't practice Thursday so he may not play. He'll be missed on special teams.
   --LB T.J. Slaughter practiced Thursday and is listed as probable and the Jaguars hope he'll play after missing the opener. He'll help upgrade the special teams.
   --DE Paul Spicer is probable with an ankle injury, but he practiced Thursday and the Jaguars think he'll be able to play. His return should help the field goal team because his replacement, George Wrighster, missed the game at the end of the game that led to the blocked field goal when Spicer was out.
   --RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala is probable with a hamstring injury and practiced Thursday. It's uncertain if he'll play.
   --CB Jason Craft, who gave up two touchdowns and a pass interference penalty that led to a third score, hopes to rebound against the Bills and Eric Moulds.

   Josh Reed's debut as Peerless Price's replacement was hardly memorable, but the coaching staff has no plans to replace him in the starting lineup with veteran Bobby Shaw.
   Shaw, the veteran free agent who faces his old team this Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars, caught three passes for 51 yards in Buffalo's 31-0 win over New England. Two of his grabs kept alive the first two TD drives as he converted on third-and-three and third-and-seven.
   Shaw was signed to play the No. 3 slot receiver, a job Reed held last season. As a starter, Reed caught one pass for five yards but dropped two others, including a flea-flicker pass where he was wide open and would've gained at least 40 yards. Reed dropped the ball while falling backwards.
   "That's a play that stands out in everybody's mind, but he played very well," said coach Gregg Williams, who noted that Reed blocked well in the run game. "There are a lot of things in the run game he did tremendous on. It's a play he wishes he had back, but he'll have some opportunities this year. He'll be fine."
   As for Shaw, he's content with filling the slot role.
   "Number of snaps doesn't matter to me," he said. "I'm a blue-collar guy that's going to go out and get his job done. That's a decision (the coaches) have to make on who they want to be the starters."

   The Jaguars hope the heat will give them a home field advantage against the Buffalo Bills, who start a two-game Florida road trip Sunday.
   After the Bills play the Jaguars on Sunday in Jacksonville, they go to Miami next Sunday. The last team to do that was the Jets last year and they lost both games by a margin of 58-6. They lost in Miami last September 22 by a 30-3 score and to the Jaguars the next week by a 38-3 margin.

   The Bills have only played 10 games in their history - including preseason games - in temperatures of 88 or above. The last one was in the 1995 season opener in Denver when they lost, 22-7, in 91 degree heat. That was the warmest regular season game they've ever played in.
   The Bills, though, insist they have a hydration program to handle the weather.
   The one thing the Jaguars won't have is a full house. The game will be blacked out on TV because they had more than 7,400 tickets available yesterday although club officials still hope to draw 60,000 plus for the game.
   They have sold about 54,000 season tickets and another 10,000 with single game and group sales.

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