Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Date and Time: Sunday, January 7, 2018, 1:05 p.m. ET
Location: EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Opening NFL Odds: Jaguars -7, O/U 40
Jaguars vs. Bills TV Coverage: CBS
The Bills probably had one of the more interesting seasons for a playoff team in NFL history. They've made no bones about the fact that they don't think all that much of Tyrod Taylor as a starting quarterback, and in fact, they benched him once in November and once in December. With Nathan Peterman struggling to figure out which color uniforms his team was wearing on a weekly basis, Taylor regained his starting job more out of default than anything else.
The Bills ranked No. 29 in the NFL in total offense and No. 31 in passing while averaging just 18.9 points per game.
If you're wondering why this team got into the playoffs, just look at the schedule that it played. Buffalo beat the Jets, Broncos, Falcons, Buccaneers, Raiders, Chiefs, Colts and Dolphins twice this season. Though those wins against Atlanta and Kansas City look nice, the Bills caught both teams at just the right time and took advantage of both. This is also a team that was beaten by Cincinnati and the Jets and was dumped by at least 20 points by the Saints, Chargers and Patriots twice.
The Jaguars had a simple schedule this year as well thanks to how bad the AFC South was. Their two losses to the Titans have to be concerning.
But maybe more important is the fact that Blake Bortles is probably playing for his job. Tom Coughlin came to town and promised to shake things up. He didn't commit to Bortles as the starting quarterback for this season but ultimately came to that conclusion after watching him in the preseason. If he plays poorly in this game, you have to think the Jags are going to head a different direction if they can.
Quote to Note
"He's going to have a chance... We got some good news this morning. We'll see." – Bills head coach Sean McDermott on LeSean McCoy's injured ankle
All eyes are going to be on McCoy this week. He was carted off the field in Miami on Sunday with an ankle injury, and the Bills have been coy about his status ever since. No one expects to see McCoy practice this entire week, keeping the guessing game going as to whether he's going to play or not.
McCoy led the Bills in rushing with 1,138 yards and six touchdowns this season, and he was second on the team in receiving yards with 448. He touched the ball an average of 21.6 times per game this year, easily tops on the team.
With Travaris Cadet on IR, the ground game looks like it would fall into the lap of rookie Marcus Murphy. Murphy had seven carries for 41 yards in his first career game last week. This would be a huge ask of him to step into the starting tailback role and perform against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Bills vs. Jaguars Free Picks
The Jags have had far too many moments this year when they just really didn't look good, especially against bad teams. Buffalo doesn't qualify as a "bad team," but it isn't exactly a team that has the look of a playoff contender.
Jacksonville has turned the corner, and we think it's going to get through this game. That said, we think it's going to do so on the back of its defense and Leonard Fournette. Bortles won't do anything to help his cause for his future with a couple interceptions in a generally bad game, but with McCoy gimpy, we're not sure the Bills have anything they can do against the Jags' defense.
We'll hesitantly lay the points at our favorite NFL sportsbook, but we think the under is the better play.
NFL ATS Pick: Jaguars -7 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Jaguars 20, Bills 6