It's time to party like it's 1999. The Buffalo Bills have not played in the post-season since 1999. And the Jaguars have not hosted a playoff game since 1999. Today in some freakish happenstance we get both in the same game.
The Buffalo Bills on paper are one of the worst teams ever to make the playoffs. They have the 29th ranked offense and the 26th ranked defense in the NFL. Both those marks are one slot worse than the 5-11 Jets. The Bills have been outscored by a whopping 57 points. How on earth did this team make the playoffs? They did a few things very well. The Bills ran the ball well, 6th in the NFL in rushing yards. The Bills didn't give up touchdown passes, 2nd least in the NFL. And most importantly, the Bills won the turnover battle. The Bills lived and died by the turnover all year. They were 6th best in the NFL at protecting the ball, and 9th best in the NFL at generating turnovers on defense. The Bills were 8-2 when they won the turnover battle, and 1-5 when they didn't, including an 0-3 record when they had the same number of turnovers as their opponent. For the Bills every game comes down to one factor: win the turnover battle. If they don't do that the Bills have nothing on offense or defense that scares anyone.
The Jacksonville Jaguars on offense may look like a good opponents for the Bills, as the Jaguars have a very turnover prone quarterback in Blake Bortles. However, the Jaguars defense is superb, ranked 2nd in the NFL, and they also rank 2nd in the NFL in generating turnovers. In addition the Jaguars have a very good offense, ranked 6th in the NFL. On paper this is a mismatch. The Jaguars have not lost a home game since mid October. The Bills only chance in this game would appear to be to shut down the Jaguars running game and make Blake Bortles be, well, Blake Bortles, single handedly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. That's easier said than done, however, as the Bills 29th ranked run defense does not seem to match up well with Jacksonville's best in the NFL run offense led by rookie Leonard Fournette.
This game shapes up as an ugly slugfest. Can Jacksonville keep their quarterback from pulling a Bortles? Can Buffalo's horrible run defense somehow shut down Jacksonville's superb run offense? We'll see shortly.
It's the Jaguars and the Bills in this year's unlikeliest of playoff matchups. Enjoy the game everybody.