The 4-7 Buffalo Bills are in a tricky spot this weekend. When they take on the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars tomorrow afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium, their cantankerous fan base in Western New York won't be able to catch the game on television - and many have mixed feelings about that fact.
Whatever your current mindset, this preview of tomorrow's game has you covered. Still itching for a Bills win? We've got three keys to a victory for you to discuss. Watching these games with an eye towards the off-season? We've got three young players for you to focus on during live action tomorrow afternoon (again, if you can).
Three Keys to Victory
- Continue Jacksonville's turnover streak. Leading up to the Miami game, the Bills had gone three straight contests without forcing a turnover; they have forced five in their last two games, however. Buffalo struggles to compete if they're not getting big plays defensively. The good news on that front? Jacksonville has turned the football over at least once in 10 of 11 games this season, which includes an in-process run of eight straight games.
- Don't get run on. Early forecasts for tomorrow indicate that it's going to be windy; persistent winds of 20-30 miles per hour are expected. Ergo, both teams will probably struggle to throw the football at times. Ergo, both teams will try to run the ball perhaps a bit more than usual. Ergo, Buffalo had better not suddenly spring a run defense leak; Jacksonville only just scraped together 100 rushing yards last week to end a seven-game stretch with less than the century mark in every game. The Bills have held teams under 100 (or 90, for that matter) in two straight games. They'd better make it three.
- Play to your strengths. Buffalo is built to play with a lead on both sides of the ball. Getting a lead has been easier said than done this season, but if they can accomplish that, they'll run the ball (and have better balance offensively), and the Jaguars will get slightly more one-dimensional offensively. All of that plays into the Bills' hands quite nicely. Get that lead, then do what you do best. Simple. (Right?)
Three Prospects to Watch
- Chris Hairston (right tackle). Thanks to injuries, Hairston will be making his eighth start of the season this weekend, and his fifth straight at right tackle. The second-year pro out of Clemson has, to put it mildly, struggled in pass protection, particularly against speed rushers. Watch him closely throughout the remainder of the season to see if he can improve in that area, because he does other things well - particularly run block. If he can play consistently enough and show improvements down the stretch, he could make a serious bid for a full-time starting gig next summer.
- Nigel Bradham (linebacker). The rookie fourth-round pick has been starting for several weeks now, though as a package-specific linebacker, he's not getting a ton of playing time. Bradham had his most impactful game of the season last week in Indy, and appears to be improving a bit. By far the most naturally athletic and explosive linebacker on the team, Bradham could have a big future - or, if he can't play more consistently, he could be stuck in his current fringe starter role for a long time. Either way, his athleticism dictates that he's going to play pro ball for quite a while.
- Da'Norris Searcy (safety). For the vast majority of the season, Searcy has been stealing between 30 and 40 percent of reps at strong safety from starter George Wilson; neither player has been particularly impressive this season. Wilson, who will turn 32 in March, is also owed $2.45 million in the final year of his deal in 2013. Searcy has had opportunities to unseat Wilson all season; whether or not he can make any headway on this season-long project will go a long way toward determining what the team does with Wilson in the spring.