Buffalo Bills (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS)
Pro Football Week 7
Date/Time: Sunday, October 25th, 9:30 AM EST
Where: Wembley Stadium
By Mike M., NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Buffalo -4 / Jax +4
Over/Under Total: 41
Buffalo and Jacksonville head across the pond to London for a Sunday morning showdown in the second of three games that the NFL will play in England this year. The game can be viewed on Yahoo.com as the NFL attempts to broaden their horizons and reach an even wider world market by streaming the game for free via the internet. Unfortunately unless you live in Buffalo or Jacksonville you will not be able to watch the game on TV as its only available on online, making dictator Goodells strategy a bit questionable as not letting NFL fans watch the games as they do every week may further alienate the loyal followers that they have been continuously pushing away over the last couple of years with the continuously poor off the field behavior of their players and the gestapo-esque actions of their failing commissioner.
The Jaguars enter the game on a down swing with a record of 1-5 and having lost their last four games. They have issues on both sides of the ball; ranking 30th in the NFL in scoring offense and 30th in scoring defense and are near the bottom of the league with a turnover margin of -6. Their offense has yet to score a rushing touchdown through six games and their lead back, Alabama rookie T.J. Yeldon, is questionable to play with a groin injury. Thankfully though for Jacksonville, they should have their trio of second-year emerging stars, quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. While Bortles has had the expected turnover issues of a young quarterback with a seven interceptions and a fumble so far in 2015, he has also gotten better through the beginning of the year, especially in the last two weeks when he thrown seven touchdowns and consecutive games with over 300 yards passing. Bortles also got the teams big free agent signing from this past offseason back, tight end Julius Thomas, after he missed the first four weeks with a hand injury. In Thomas first full game back last week against Houston he responded well with the QB, catching seven passes for 78 yards and touchdown. The Jags signal caller will hope to continue his recent prolific play battling a Bills defense that has given up the third most passing touchdowns on the season.
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said this week that he plans to change things up on defense in hopes of creating any sort of pressure on the opposing team. Since taking over as the Jacksonville head coach in 2013, Bradley has led the team to a paltry record of 8-30 and needs to do whatever he can to try an alleviate some of the pressure building on the coaching hot seat. The last two weeks have been especially troubling as they lost to fellow NFL bottom dwellers Tampa Bay and Houston and they really werent that close in either, especially at home against the Texans last week in a game they lost by double-digits. Bradley may be running out of time sooner than later, particularly if he cant right the ship against a struggling and injury depleted Buffalo team.
The Bills start week seven of the season with an offense that has been ravaged by injuries. Starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor has already been ruled out of Sundays contest with an MCL sprain and will be joined on the inactive list by their two starting wide receivers, Sammy Watkins (ankle) and Percy Harvin (hip). With Watkins and Harvin both out, the Bills will have to rely on two less experienced wide receivers to take their place, third-year players Robert Woods and Chris Hogan. Thankfully the Bills now starter at quarterback EJ Manual will still have TE Charles Clay to throw to which should lead to a further increase in production for the Tight End, who already leads the team in targets and catches and makes him a valuable mid-priced asset on daily fantasy sites. The biggest boost for Buffalo is the return of running back LeSean McCoy, who came back week against Cincinnati to run for 90 yards and score his first touchdown of the season. The offense needs all the help they can get but with all the injuries may have difficult improving on their stagnant ranking of 27th in the NFL in yards per game.
Under new head coach Rex Ryan the Bills have a disappointing .500 record of 3-3 to start the year with all three of their losses coming at home. There have been grumblings internally by players of unhappiness with the gameplans, whether it was wide receiver Sammy Watkins complaining about not getting the ball enough or linemen Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus questioning their use on defense. Ryan has had success in the face of turmoil in the past and will be hoping the trip overseas can help the team shake off the cobwebs of their early start and get their season back on track.
With no home field advantage and injuries to both teams that have underachieved through the first month and half of the season it wasnt an easy choice this week picking between Buffalo and Jacksonville. When in doubt its usually safe to go with the better coach, and while his team has some inner turmoil to work through, Rex Ryan is clearly the choice in that regard against the hapless Gus Bradley, who has won just over 20% of the games he has coached in his NFL head-coaching career. In a game that doesnt look to be a high-scoring affair (the over/under of 41 is the lowest of any NFL game this weekend), expect the Bills to continue their trend of winning every other week so far this season and get a win and cover in Jolly ole England against the Jaguars on Sunday.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Buffalo -4
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