2018 NFL Playoffs
AFC Wild Card Game
#6 Buffalo Bills at #3 Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, January 7, 2018, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
EverBank Field – Jacksonville, Florida
Opening Line: Jacksonville -8 1/2 (+115)
Current Line: Jacksonville -8 1/2
Opening Total: 40
Current Total: 39 1/2
Opening Money Line: Jaguars -335 / Bills +275
Current Money Line: Jaguars -410 / Bills +340
The 10-6 Jacksonville Jaguars host the 9-7 Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs Sunday. It is one of the unlikeliest playoff match-ups ever as both teams combined for 10 wins last season. Both are also ending long playoff droughts. The Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999 and the Jaguars haven’t been since 2007.
Jacksonville went 3-13 last year. The Jaguars are the #3 seed in the AFC after winning the AFC South. It was their first division title since winning the AFC Central in 1999. Buffalo went 7-9 last year and slipped into the playoffs this year as the #6 seed. The Bills needed to beat the Dolphins last week and also get some help. They got that help as the Cincinnati Bengals scored a last minute touchdown to upset the Baltimore Ravens last week. Videos of Bills fans and players celebrating became YouTube sensations all week.
If the Jaguars win, then they will travel to the #2 seed Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday in the Divisional playoffs. If the Bills pull the upset, they will travel to the #1 seed New England Patriots next Saturday night. The #5 seed Tennessee Titans have already advanced to the next round with a thrilling 22-21 come from behind win over the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday.
Buffalo leads the series 8-7 against Jacksonville. The Bills have won three of the last four games against the Jaguars, including 28-21 at home in 2016 in the last meeting. The only playoff meeting between the Bills and Jags was also the first ever meeting between the teams in the 1995 Wild Card game.
Buffalo is coached by Sean McDermott. The Bills have road losses at the Carolina Panthers 9-3, Cincinnati Bengals 20-16, New York Jets 34-21, LA Chargers 54-24 and New England Patriots 37-16, plus home losses to the New Orleans Saints 47-10 and Patriots 23-3. Buffalo has home wins over the Jets 21-12, Denver Broncos 26-16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-27, Oakland Raiders 34-14, Indianapolis Colts 13-7 in overtime, and Miami Dolphins 24-16. The Bills also have road wins over the Atlanta Falcons 23-17, Kansas City Chiefs 16-10 and Dolphins 22-16 last week. Buffalo was a 2.5 point favorite against Miami and the total was 41.5. The Bills are 9-6-1 ATS and the total is 8-8 this season.
Jacksonville is coached by Doug Marrone, in his first year with the Jaguars. He coached the Bills for several seasons. The Jaguars have home losses to the Tennessee Titans 37-16 and Los Angeles Rams 27-17 and road losses to the New York Jets 23-20 in overtime, Arizona Cardinals 27-24, San Francisco 49ers 44-33 and Titans 15-10 last week. A two game losing streak to end the season ended any hopes of a first round bye for the Jags. Jacksonville has road wins over the Houston Texans 29-7, Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9, Indianapolis Colts 27-0, and Cleveland Browns 19-7, plus a neutral site win in London over the Baltimore Ravens 44-7. The Jaguars have home wins over the Cincinnati Bengals 23-7, Los Angeles Chargers 20-17 in overtime, Colts 30-10, Seattle Seahawks 30-24 and Texans 45-7. Jacksonville was a 2.5 point underdog against Tennessee and the total was 40. The Jaguars are 9-7 ATS and the total is 8-8 this season.
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Buffalo is being outscored 22-19 this season. The Bills are #18 in points allowed and #22 in scoring. Buffalo averages 303 total yards per game including 177 passing and 126 rushing yards. The Bills are #29 in total offense, #31 in passing and #6 in rushing. On defense, Buffalo is allowing 355 total yards per game, including 241 passing and 125 rushing yards. The Bills are #29 in rush defense and #26 in total defense. Buffalo is 103/256 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 93/234. The Bills have forced 27 sacks and have allowed 47 this season. Buffalo is +9 in turnovers with three defensive touchdowns scored and two allowed.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has completed 62.6% of his passes for 2,799 yards with 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with 84 carries for 427 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has been sacked 46 times. The Bills started rookie Nathan Peterman for a game against the Chargers. He has thrown for 252 yards with 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and also has 23 rushing yards.
Running back LeSean McCoy has 287 carries for 1,138 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 59 catches for 448 yards and two touchdowns. He is expected to play after battling an ankle injury all week. Mike Tolbert has 66 carries for 247 yards and a touchdown, along with 14 catches for 78 yards.
Tight end Charles Clay has 49 catches for 558 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a knee injury. The Bills acquired receiver Kelvin Benjamin just before the trade deadline from the Carolina Panthers for draft picks. Benjamin has 48 catches for 692 yards and 3 touchdowns for the season. He is probable with a knee injury. Deonte Thompson has 27 catches for 430 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Nick O’Leary has 22 catches for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns. Zay Jones has 27 catches for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Jordan Matthews has 25 catches for 282 yards and a touchdown. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Andre Holmes has 13 catches for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brandon Tate and Logan Thomas each have a touchdown catch. Three defensive players and three offensive linemen are all listed on the injury report.
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Jacksonville is outscoring teams 26-17 this season. The Jaguars are #5 in scoring and are #2 in points allowed. Jacksonville averages 366 total yards per game on offense including 225 passing and 141 rushing yards. The Jags are #6 in total offense and lead the league in rushing. On defense, Jacksonville allows 286 total yards including 170 passing yards and 116 rushing yards. The Jaguars are #2 in total defense and #1 in pass defense. Jacksonville is 95/240 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 80/233. Jacksonville has forced 55 sacks and allowed 24 this season. The Jaguars are +10 in turnovers. Jacksonville has scored seven defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown. The Jags have allowed three defensive/special teams touchdowns.
Quarterback Blake Bortles has completed 60.2% of his passes for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and has rushed for 322 yards on 57 carries with 2 touchdowns. He has been sacked 24 times. He has started 47 straight games.
Rookie Running back Leonard Fournette has 268 carries for 1,040 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 302 yards and a touchdown. Chris Ivory has 112 carries for 382 yards and a touchdown, along with 21 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. He is questionable with a back injury. T.J. Yeldon has 49 carries for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 30 catches for 224 yards. He is probable with an illness. Corey Grant has 30 carries for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 3 catches for 41 yards.
Receiver Keelan Cole has 42 catches for 738 yards and 3 touchdowns. Marqise Lee has 56 catches for 702 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Allen Hurns has 39 catches for 484 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Marcedes Lewis has 24 catches for 318 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Dede Westbrook has 27 catches for 339 yards and a touchdown. Receivers Arrelious Benn, Larry Pinkard, Allen Robinson and Rashad Greene are all out for the season. Three defensive players and three offensive linemen are on the injury report.
The last five games in this series have gone over the total. The road team and underdog are both 5-2 ATS in the series. The Bills are 5-2 ATS in Jacksonville recently.
Look, it is a wonderful feel good story that the Bills are back in the playoffs for the first time this century. However, that story will end rather quickly in the playoffs against the fearsome Jacksonville defense. The Jaguars have the league’s best pass rush and the Bills can’t protect the quarterback. It is possible Bortles will make some bad decisions that will keep Baffalo in the game, but I like the Jags to win a low scoring game. I am not too worried about the two game losing streak for Jacksonville as the 49ers were one of the hottest teams in football down the stretch and the Titans were desperate for a win to make the playoffs.