Friday, December 13, 2013
W2W4: Bills at Jaguars
By Mike Rodak
The Jacksonville Jaguars are 1-5 at home this season, while the Buffalo Bills are 1-5 on the road. The Jaguars have won four of their past five games, while the Bills have lost four of their past five.
On Sunday in Jacksonville, something will have to give.
Here's what to watch for as the Bills make their second consecutive trip to Florida:
1. Effect on draft order: This can be copied and pasted from last week, when the Bills traveled to Tampa. This time around, the Bills and Jaguars have identical 4-9 records, so the loser of Sunday's game will have the edge on draft position next May. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot of meaning to this contest. The Washington Redskins-Atlanta Falcons tilt is the only other game this weekend between two teams with losing records. Given the Mike Shanahan situation, that game will have more national appeal than Bills-Jaguars, putting Sunday's game in Jacksonville squarely at the bottom of the NFL's barrel. That's not where the Bills want to be in December.
2. Monitoring Manuel: This can also be copied and pasted. Quarterback EJ Manuel is coming off his worst performance of the season, so naturally he'll be looking to bounce back. After his rough outing in Pittsburgh, Manuel came back strong against the Jets. Perhaps that will happen again, which would quiet some of the rookie's critics. If it doesn't, expect the questions about Manuel to only grow stronger next week. It's that simple.
3. Sack record within reach: The bright spot for the Bills all season has been their pass rush, and they're now within striking distance of tying the franchise record for sacks in a single season. With 44, the Bills lead the NFL in sacks this season and are just shy of their team record of 49, set in 1995. Expect that one to be broken soon.
4. Alonso's status: Linebacker Kiko Alonso tweaked his knee in Friday's practice and is questionable for Sunday. The rookie has played every defensive snap so far this season, and even if Alonso suits up Sunday, it's likely that streak will end. At this point, it would be smart for the Bills to take things easy with their second-round pick. He's proven plenty in 13 games this season and he will be a fixture of this defense for the foreseeable future. There's no need to push the envelope in an essentially meaningless game.