Wildcard preview: Bills @ Jaguars

Sunday marks the first playoff game for the Jaguars in a decade. The writers at TheCover3 will breakdown the game and give their keys to the game along with their key players and analysis.

Keys to the Game: 

Tony: 

Offense: The goal is to get the running game going. Jags have to take advantage of the Bills 29th rushing defense, and get running back Leonard Fournette running like he was earlier this season. If he gets going, it could be a long day for the Bills.

Defense: The Jaguars have to  Contain Tyrod Taylor. With star running back more than likely out, or limited vs the Jaguars, it’ll be key to contain QB Tyrod Taylor. They cannot allow him to extend, and make plays with his legs.

Aaron:

Offense: I expect the Bills to sell out for the run to help their struggling run defense, that means loading the box. Jacksonville has to stay committed to the run game, even when things aren’t picking up. With that being said the Bills have a very inexperienced secondary. Look for Bortles to take shots down the field early.

Defense: Stopping the run even with all pro running back LeSean McCoy likely out, Buffalo will stay true to who they are and run the ball. The Jaguars cannot let Tyrod Taylor make plays with his feet, like Mariota did last week.

Darien:

Offense: the Jaguars will have to do what they do best… Run the ball. Averaging 141 yards per game, the Jaguars finished the season with number 1 rush offense in the NFL. Buffalo is coming in this Wild Card matchup allowing 129 yards per game, Jacksonville should have no problem establishing the run.

Defense: With the uncertainty of Lesean McCoys status due to injury, the Bills will be depending on their signal caller Tyrod Taylor. The Bills rank 7th in sacks given up, totaling 47 for the year. While the jags ranked 2nd in the league on sacks, totaling 55 for the season.

Key players:

Tony:

Offense: Dede Westbrook. It’ll be important for Dede Westbrook to bounce back after a rough game last week. He’ll provide a deep threat for Blake Bortles. It will also help take pressure off Leonard Fournette and the running game.

Defense: Myles Jack. For the defense to be succesful, the Jags will need Myles Jack to spy Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and not allow any big runs from the QB. Also, he will be responsible for Taylor’s top target and leading receiver Lesean Mccoy (if he plays) out of the back field.

Aaron: 

Offense: Blake Bortles. After a rough last two weeks of the playoffs, I think it’s key for Bortles to get back on track if they want to make a run. I expect Bortles to take shots downfield on an inexperienced secondary and make smart decisions.

Defense: Telvin Smith. Facing a run heavy offense, Smith is probably the best run stopper on the team, using his speed to out run blockers and make plays in the backfield. Smith is the enforcer on this defense so expect him to enforce.

Darien: 

Offense: Leonard Fournette. He was the topic of conservation last week as well but he’s such a key part of what the jags excel at doing, running the ball.

Defense: Calais Campbell. Applying the pressure to Bills Quarterback will be essential to the Jags success come Sunday afternoon. Campbell leads the team with 14.5 sacks and should have a big game against a struggling Bills line.

Tony’s Analysis:
The Bills may have the 31st passing offense, but they will still present challenges to the NFL’s #1 passing defense. For example, the key to the Jags top ranked passing defense is lock down and pro-bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.j Bouye. The Bills leading receivers are running back Lesean Mccoy and Tight end Charles Clay. The leading wide receiver is Deonte Thompson with only 27 catches. The reason this may be a challenge is because it means the pro-bowl cornerbacks will hardly be targeted in this game. That means other players such as Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, and Tashaun Gipson will have to step up in coverage to be successful on defense. Another challenge is Quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is very smart with the football, throwing only 4 INT’s this season. He also has the ability to extend plays with his legs. On offense, the Jags will be challenged by the Bills young, underrated secondary. First round draft pick Tre White, who was my #1 cornerback in last years draft, is a defensive rookie of the year candidate. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are playmakers and playing some of  their best football of their careers. It’ll be important for Quarterback Blake Bortles to be careful with the football and not turn the ball over against this aggressive secondary.

Prediction:

Tony: Jaguars 30 Bills 13

Aaron: Jaguars 24 Bills 7

Darien: Jaguars 17 Bills 3

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