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Here we go. The Buffalo Bills are 5-2, sitting on top of the AFC East. The problem is that three other AFC teams are currently 5-2 or better, with the Titans being 6-2.
In any event, the Bills have a favorable schedule coming up. Their next two opponents have a combined 3-11 record. This week, it’s the 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has somehow managed to keep games close, despite a dreadful roster.
In a sense, Trevor Lawrence was supposed to be the second coming of Andrew Luck, and maybe he still will be. But so far, the early results have been ugly under first-year head coach Urban Meyer, and there appears to be no end to their struggles in sight.
Buffalo’s coming off another slow start that saw them look mediocre for a half of football. And once again, for the second time this season, Josh Allen was the Herd’s leading rusher.
The Bills haven’t had a 100-yard rusher all season, and that’s unlikely to change against Jacksonville, as stopping the run may be their best attribute so far. The Jags rank 14th in the NFL, allowing just over 100 rushing yards per game (107.8).
Offensively, if James Robinson can go, running the ball is their best way to move the chains. However, they haven’t stuck with their ground game at all this year, preferring to let Trevor Lawrence drop back 30-50 times per game, which likely is because they are constantly losing by more than one possession.
If the Bills can erase their early struggles and get off to a hot start, we could be watching Mitchell Trubisky go against Lawrence in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo Bills Week 9 game details, where to watch
- Sunday, November 7, 2021
- Start time: 1:00 PM ET
- TV channel - CBS
- Location - TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida
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What happened last time the Bills played the Jacksonville Jaguars?
The last time the Bills played the Jaguars came back in 2018 during Week 12. It was Josh Allen’s rookie year and his first game back from an elbow injury suffered in Week 6 against the Houston Texans.
As you can imagine coming off a sprained UCL in his throwing elbow, Allen wasn’t the most accurate, going 8-of-19 for 160 yards and a touchdown, but the Jags were rolling with Blake Bortles as their starting QB, and he had even less luck. Thanks to a couple of deflections, Bortles threw an interception to Matt Milano and Jordan Poyer. Jacksonville managed to have just 127 passing yards.
The Bills squeaked out a victory, but the Jaguars roster was much better back then. Leonard Fournette was their starting RB, they didn’t have much at receiver, but defensively, the Jaguars were intimidating. Jalen Ramsey still locked down one side of the field, and Yannick Ngakoue paired with Calais Campbell brought the heat. They also still had Telvin Smith and A.J. Bouye.
The only relevant player remaining from those days is linebacker Myles Jack, but with no sacks, interceptions, or fumbles caused this year, he shouldn’t strike too much fear in any opponent.
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Matchups to watch
- Josh Allen vs. Josh Allen (Jaguars)
It’s the battle of Josh Allens. Oddly enough, the Jaguars also have a player named Josh Allen that was selected 7th overall in an NFL Draft who is 6-foot-5. Only, he plays defense, specifically as an edge rusher.
Like the Bills’ young stud QB, the version the Jags have is pretty good too. Reaching the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2018, Allen currently has 4.5 sacks on the year, after tallying two last week against Seattle. Right tackle Spencer Brown (if he can go this week) or Darryl Williams will have his work cut out for him, trying to stop one of the best players on the Jaguars roster.
Luckily, the Bills’ version of Josh Allen happens to be pretty damn good. He’s not as quick as the one who plays defense, but Allen’s mobility at the quarterback position should be able to help keep the pass rusher at bay.
- Bills secondary vs. Trevor Lawrence
Welcome to the NFL, rookie. Pegged as a phenom and the best quarterback prospect to enter the draft since Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, first-year pro Trevor Lawrence hasn’t really wowed anyone yet.
It’s incredibly early to write the book on any rookie after just seven games played, and being strapped to Urban Meyer likely hasn’t helped. Still, Lawrence hasn’t been able to elevate a terrible Jaguars team into a decent one.
Needless to say, the QB with a 59.6% completion rate will struggle to have a big day against the likes of Tre’Davious White (who’s been awesome), Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde. After all, Lawrence is in a four-way tie for having the second-most interceptions thrown in the NFL this season, having tossed nine to the other team.
I don’t want to rail on the guy too much, we all saw how inconsistent and erratic Allen was in his rookie season (52.8% completion rate), but even our beloved Bills QB never threw as many interceptions as Lawrence is now. In any season, the most interceptions Allen has thrown in his rookie year, throwing 12 picks, but it was also just 12 games. Lawrence is on pace to finish with 21 INTs this season.
- Buffalo special teams kickoff unit vs. Jamal Agnew
One area of strength for the Jaguars matches up well in Buffalo’s favor. Despite Isaiah McKenzie being third in the NFL in kick return average, some might say the Bills don’t have a great kick or punt return game, whereas the Jaguars do.
Returning kicks for the Jags is one of the best returners over the past few seasons, Jamal Agnew. He already has one KR TD this season, coming in Week 2.
Agnew also returns punts and has a total of six career kick or punt return touchdowns since entering the NFL in 2017.
Working in their favor, the Rumbling Herd have allowed an average of 20 kick return yards per kickoff, ranking as the league’s ninth-best mark. While the diminutive Agnew can change the momentum in a flash with a big return, the Bills seem prepared for whatever the Jaguars have up their sleeves.
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Buffalo Bills Week 9 game prediction
- Last season’s record: Buffalo Bills 13-3, reached AFC Conference Championship
- Jacksonville Jaguars 1-15, last place in AFC South
In a game, the Bills should be heavily favored, they are. Vegas oddsmakers have the betting line set, favoring the Bills by anywhere from 10.5 all the way up to a 15 point lead. It’s a line Buffalo shouldn’t have much trouble covering. But I’m not advocating anything here.
As mentioned here before, Any Given Sunday gives any team a chance in the NFL. Nobody expected Buffalo to get off to such a slow start last week against Miami. All it takes is a few bad bounces for a game to go the other way.
From a spectator’s perspective, the Bills-Jaguars Week 9 matchup lines up well for any Buffalo fan. The Bills have allowed only one team to score more than 21 points all season, and I wouldn’t anticipate Jacksonville becoming another.
Buffalo will keep the Jags in check, limiting them to fewer than three scores while topping at least 30 points themselves, with Josh Allen (Buffalo) having another great game, solidifying his MVP standing.
Game prediction: 42-10 Bills victory