Bills vs. Jaguars: Final Odds, TV Schedule, Predictions for 2018 AFC Wild Card

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2018

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs against San Francisco 49ers linebacker Brock Coyle (50) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The last time the Buffalo Bills were in the postseason, they experienced the heartbreak of the Music City Miracle at the hands of the Tennessee Titans in January 2000.

The Jacksonville Jaguars last triumphed in the playoffs in 2007, when quarterback David Garrard and running back Maurice Jones-Drew led them to a wild-card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The pair of unexpected playoff participants will square off in the second AFC Wild Card Game Sunday afternoon at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

Jacksonville is favored to win the contest, but as we saw Saturday, playing at home doesn't guarantee a victory.


Odds: Jacksonville (-8); Over/Under: 39.5


Start Time: 1:05 p.m. ET


More Pressure on Taylor with McCoy Banged Up

When Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor was benched ahead of the Week 11 game against Los Angeles Chargers, no one would have expected him to be featured in a starting role in the postseason.

Taylor helped the Bills bounce back from the Sunday to forget with a Week 12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and he put up good numbers in the final three games leading into the postseason.

The 28-year-old put together a trio of 200-yard performances in two games against the Miami Dolphins and a Week 16 clash with the New England Patriots.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31:  Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills rushes during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

However, Taylor has a few new roadblocks to overcome Sunday in order to lead the Bills to victory.

Taylor will not have a full-strength LeSean McCoy next to him in the backfield because of the ankle injury the running back suffered in Week 17. And the Bills quarterback will be opposed by the league's top passing defense.

The Jaguars had the only defense that conceded fewer than 3,000 passing yards, as they held opponents to 170 yards per game. They also have the second-most sacks in the NFL, with 55, which is one behind the league-leading Pittsburgh Steelers.

If Taylor is able to develop confidence early by completing a few passes and earning some first downs while limiting the risk for turnovers, the Bills will stand a chance, even if McCoy can't do much on his injured ankle.


Jacksonville's Top-Rated Running Game Should Provide Support for Bortles

If someone asked you which team had the league's best rushing offense in 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars might not have been your first choice, with running backs like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley and McCoy achieving success this season.

But the Jaguars do contain the league's best rushing offense, with 141.4 yards per game. That number was earned on 527 carries, which was also a league high.

Jacksonville ran the ball 26 times more than the Minnesota Vikings, who were the only other team to record more than 500 carries in the regular season.

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31:  Blake Bortles #5 hands off the ball to Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Titans defeated the Jagu
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Rookie running back Leonard Fournette is responsible for the bulk of the load, as he's picked up 1,040 yards on 268 carries, while Chris Ivory has carried the ball 112 times for 382 yards.

Fournette, who dealt with an ankle injury at the back end of the regular season, ran for just 117 yards on 37 carries in Weeks 16 and 17, but head coach Doug Marrone is certain he will be fine for the playoff workload ahead of him.

"I felt good after last week watching him run," Marrone said, per ESPN's Michael DiRocco. "You could watch him where he is, and I felt good where he was. First play, he cuts back to the B gap, makes a good gain, runs hard. Catches a pass, runs down the sideline, stays in bounds, lowers his shoulder. I think he's back, and he should be fine."

Fournette and Ivory will attempt to control the game and keep the ball out of the hands of quarterback Blake Bortles, who may only have to complete a few passes in a victory if his teammates thrive on the ground.

Bortles attempted 84 passes over the past two gameweeks, and he threw five interceptions while passing for 540 yards. If the quarterback commits an early turnover, he could put the Jags in a hole, which is why the running backs' tone-setting is so important.


How Much Havoc Will Jacksonville's Pass Rush Cause?

If you haven't been able to marvel in the defensive-line play of the Jaguars yet, Sunday is your chance to see Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue in action.

Campbell is tied for second in the NFL in sacks, with 14.5, alongside New Orleans' Cameron Jordan. Ngakoue is tied for eighth with 12.

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The pair of defensive standouts will look to wreak havoc on Buffalo's offensive line, which has given up the seventh-most sacks in the NFL.

In four games versus teams that qualified for the postseason, Campbell racked up 2.5 sacks, highlighted by a pair against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 6.

Ngakoue didn't have a sack against a playoff team and had his best games against the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts, two teams that rank above the Bills in sacks conceded.

With Buffalo's protection susceptible to being breached and Taylor expected to do more with McCoy hobbled, the Jaguars pass rush could steal the show.


Prediction: Jaguars 27, Bills 16


Statistics obtained from ESPN.comOdds obtained from OddsSharkFollow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.


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