NFL Picks Week 15: Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars
EverBank Field – Jacksonville, Florida

Sunday, December 15, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Buffalo -2 (+105)
Current Line: Buffalo -2 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 44
Current Total: 42 1/2
Opening Money Line: Bills -125 / Jaguars +105
Current Money Line: Bills -145 / Jaguars +125

The Bills are a slight road favorite against the Jaguars Sunday.

The Bills are a slight road favorite against the Jaguars Sunday.

Somehow both the 4-9 Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars are still technically alive for a playoff spot, but they are battling 8 other teams for one spot. This is an elimination game for the loser but even the winner will need a series of miracles to make the playoffs. Buffalo is in last place in the AFC East and Jacksonville is in third in the AFC South.

Buffalo leads the series against Jacksonville 5-4 since 2001. The Bills won the last meeting last year in Buffalo 34-18. They haven’t played in Jacksonville since 2009.

Buffalo is coached by Doug Marrone. The Bills have home wins over the Carolina Panthers 24-23, Baltimore Ravens 23-20, and New York Jets 37-14, along with a road win at the Miami Dolphins 23-21. Buffalo has road losses at the Jets 27-20, Cleveland Browns 37-24, New Orleans Saints 35-17, Pittsburgh Steelers 23-10, and last week at the Tampa bay Buccaneers 27-6. The Bills have home losses to the New England Patriots 23-21, Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 in overtime, Kansas City Chiefs 23-13, and Atlanta Falcons 34-31 in overtime (in Toronto). Buffalo has lost two straight games and 5 of their last 6 games. By a strange schedule quirk, Buffalo is playing all three Florida teams in consecutive weeks as they traveled to the Buccaneers last week and host the Dolphins next week. The Bills are 6-7 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season. The Bills were 3 point underdogs at Tampa Bay last week and the total was 42.5.

Last week, in the 8 early NFL games, Tampa Bay was the only game in which it wasn’t snowing. The Buccaneers took an early 14-3 lead against the Bills. Tampa Bay would expand the lead to 24-3 by halftime. Each team kicked a field goal in the third quarter to make it 27-6. Neither team would score again. Buffalo had 214 total yards including 147 passing yards. Tampa Bay had 246 total yards including 165 rushing yards. The two teams combined for 19 penalties for 190 yards. The Bills had five turnovers and the Buccaneers had two.

Buffalo is being outscored 26-21 this season. The Bills are #21 in points allowed and #25 in scoring. Buffalo is averaging 327.8 yards per game on offense, including 194.2 passing and 133.6 rushing yards. The Bills are #5 in rushing, #28 in passing and #23 in total offense. On defense, Buffalo is allowing 345.8 total yards per game including 220.9 passing and 124.8 rushing yards. The Bills are #6 in pass defense, #26 against the rush, and #15 in total defense. Buffalo is -1 in turnovers. The Bills are 71/210 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 81/211. Buffalo has forced 44 sacks and allowed 39 this season. The Bills have three defensive touchdowns and have allowed four defensive/special teams touchdowns. Buffalo averages 62 penalty yards per game and opponents average 60.

Buffalo has used 3 quarterbacks this season. Rookie E.J. Manuel has completed 57.8% of his passes for 1,779 yards with 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 43 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown. He has been sacked 24 times this season. Thad Lewis started a few games when Manuel was out with a knee injury. Lewis has completed 60.2% of his passes for 652 total yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 35 rushing yards and a touchdown. Jeff Tuel has thrown for 309 yards with a touchdown and 3 interceptions, along with 17 rushing yards.

Running back C.J. Spiller has 149 carries for 678 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 24 catches for 130 yards. Fred Jackson has 157 carries for 645 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 41 catches for 319 yards and a touchdown. Tashard Choice will also get some carries and has a rushing touchdown.

Receiver Steve Johnson has 51 catches, 593 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Scott Chandler has 43 catches, 515 yards and 2 touchdowns. Robert Woods has 31 catches for 408 yards and 2 touchdowns. T.J. Graham has 18 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown. Marquise Goodwin has 16 catches, 261 yards and 3 touchdowns. Six defensive palyers are listed on the injury report for Buffalo.

The Jaguars are coached by Gus Bradley in his first year. Jacksonville has road wins over the Tennessee Titans 29-27, Houston Texans 13-6, and at the Cleveland Browns 32-28, along with a home win over the Texans 27-10 last week. Jacksonville has won 4 of their last 5 games and 3 in a row after an 0-8 start.  The Jaguars have home losses to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-2, the Indianapolis Colts 37-3, the San Francisco 49ers 42-10 in London ( technically a  Jags’ home game), the San Diego Chargers 24-6 and Arizona Cardinals 27-14 along with road losses at the Oakland Raiders 19-9, the Seattle Seahawks 45-17, the St. Louis Rams 34-20  and the Denver Broncos 35-19. All of Jacksonville’s losses are by double digits. The Jaguars are 5-8 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season. Jacksonville was an 3 point underdog against the Texans last week and the total was 43.5.

Jacksonville took a 17-7 lead against Houston at halftime last week. The Texans would pull to within 24-17 by the end of the third. Houston kicked a field goal early in the fourth to make it 24-20. After a Jacksonville punt, Houston drove from their own 20 to the Jaguar 12. Instead of kicking the field goal, Houston went for it on fourth down and the pass was incomplete. Houston would get one more chance from their own 22 with 2:21 left but they threw an interception. The Jaguars kicked a field goal to make it 27-20, with 25 seconds left. The game ended with a Jacksonville sack of quarterback Matt Schaub. Houston had 406 total yards including 323 passing yards. Jacksonville had 281 yards including 149 rushing yards. The Texans had 14 penalties for 177 yards and 2 turnovers. Jacksonville had 8 penalties for 57 yards.

The Jaguars are being outscored 29-16 this season. Jacksonville is last in scoring and #30 in points allowed. The Jaguars are averaging a league worst 285.2 yards per game including the #23 passing game at 208.8 yards and are last in rushing at 76.6 yards per game. The defense isn’t much better. Jacksonville is allowing 383 yards per game including 256.2 passing and 126.8 rushing yards. The Jaguars are #26 or worse in all three categories. Jacksonville is -2 in turnovers. The Jaguars are 65/206 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 85/191. Jacksonville has allowed 40 quarterback sacks this season and forced 23. The Jags have allowed 4 defensive touchdowns this season and has 2 of their own. Jacksonville is averaging 50 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 50.

Jacksonville QB Chad Henne  has completed 60.2% of his passes for 2,436 yards with 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has been sacked 28 times this season and has 54 rushing yards. Blaine Gabbert started a few games earlier in the season. Gabbert has completed 48.8% of his passes for 481 yards with a touchdown and 7 picks, along with 9 carries for 32 yards. He has been sacked 12 times.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has 208 carries, 719 yards and 5 touchdown, along with  34 catches for 239 yards. He is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Jordan Todman has 43 carries for 138 yards with 2 touchdowns along with 8 catches and a touchdown. he is probable with a shoulder injury.  Little used running back Justin Forsett is out with a broken foot.

Receiver Cecil Shorts has 66 catches, 777 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with a groin injury. Justin Blackmon returned from a 4 game suspension for violating the NFL”s substance abuse policy, and played in a few games. However, he failed another drug test and is suspended at least until next season. He had 29 catches for 415 yards and a touchdown. Ace Sanders has 39 catches for 397 yards.   Mike Brown has 31 catches for 312 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Clay Harbor has 19 catches, 229 yards and a touchdown. Marcedes Lewis has 14 catches for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receivers Stephen Williams (Achilles) and Stephen Burton (concussion) are both out. Seven defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report. Kicker Josh Scobee is probable with a hip injury.

Buffalo is 5-0 ATS after gaining 250 yards or less, 4-1 after allowing 150 rushing yards or more, 5-2 after scoring 15 points or less, 7-3 after a straight up loss, 2-5 against teams with losing records, 5-15-1 in road games, 1-4 against teams with losing road records, after a straight up loss of 14 points or more, and after allowing 150 passing yards or less, 1-5 in December, overall and on grass, and 0-4 after allowing less than 250 total yards. The Bills are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 against the Jaguars including 4-1 in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is 4-0 ATS against AFC teams, 4-1 overall and on grass, 2-5 after a cover, against teams with losing road records, and after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 3-8-1 after a straight up win, 10-29-1 after allowing more than 350 total yards, 1-5 at home, and 0-4 in week 15. The underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 in this series.

Jacksonville has been playing much better recently, but they haven’t beaten a team with a winning record in their four wins. Buffalo has been inconsistent all season. I don’t know if you can trust either one of these teams. The Bills ahve a good defense, but I still think this will be a high scoring game.

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