Just because the Buffalo Bills are only looking at their next opponent, that doesn't mean we can't jump the gun and see what's coming. Each week, we'll be looking at the next few opponents on the schedule to see what might be in store when they face off against the Bills. We call it our Pro Personnel Department series.
Week 6: Bills vs. Bengals
Week 5: Seahawks (2-2) at Bengals (4-0), Sunday, 10/11, 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 4 review: The Bengals came out firing in a 36-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, with Andy Dalton continuing his stellar season by throwing for 321 yards and a touchdown. The running game doesn't have a bell-cow at the moment, but the combination of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill excelled against the Chiefs. Bernard picked up a team-high 62 yards, while Hill's 40 yards included three touchdown runs. A.J. Green failed to record a touchdown, but Dalton spread the ball around enough that the passing game was incredibly effective anyway.
Defensively, the Bengals struggled but held strong when it counted. Jeremy Maclin and Jamaal Charles both totaled over 140 yards from scrimmage, and Alex Smith threw for 386 yards, but Kansas City settled for field goals a team-record seven times. Cincinnati's defense was repeatedly gashed for yards after the catch, a victim of the elusiveness of Maclin and Charles. Still, when the field condensed they were able to put enough pressure on Smith to force him into mistakes. They were strong, but definitely vulnerable.
What to watch for: How does the Bengal passing game deal with the Legion of Boom? Since the return of Kam Chancellor, the Seahawk defense has held opponents to a total of ten points over two games (albeit one of those was against a Bears team missing Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey). The Bengals' four opponents to this point all rank 23rd or worse in scoring defense, so the increased competition should be a good gauge for where they really stand.
Player to Watch: QB Andy Dalton. Often times, a great player signs a massive contract and proceeds to turn mediocre. Dalton was a mediocre quarterback who signed a massive contract extension and turned into an MVP candidate. It helps to have A.J. Green, but Cincinnati had five receivers over 50 yards against the Chiefs, and Dalton is absolutely passing the eye test. His throws are sharp, and his movement in the pocket looks great. He has been known for his inconsistency, however, and the Seahawks are easily the biggest challenge he'll have faced up to this point.
Week 7: Bills at Jaguars (London)
Week 5: Jaguars (1-3) at Buccaneers (1-3), Sunday, 10/11, 1:00 p.m. ET
Week 4 review: Honestly, I really can't understand how the Jaguars don't ever play any better than they do. There's a ton of talent on the team, but they never seem to be in sync all at once. In the 16-13 overtime loss to the shorthanded Colts, Blake Bortles opened the game on fire, moving around with ease and hitting receivers short and long, while T.J. Yeldon was repeatedly bottled up at the line of scrimmage. In the second half, the script flipped to an extent. Bortles, who completed 14 of 18 passes in the first half, completed 14 of 32 after halftime. Yeldon carried 12 times for 40 yards in the first half, but opened overtime with a 36-yard carry to move the ball into Colts territory (they punted after a Toby gerhart carry and two incomplete passes). Allen Hurns was a standout for the whole game, catching 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The Jaguars defense stop out in the run defense, but it was hard to tell whether it was the defense playing well or Frank Gore playing poorly. In fact, until the final play from scrimmage, Gore was held to just 31 yards on 16 carries. Unfortunately for the Jags, the last play from scrimmage saw him tear off 22 yards to give Adam Vinatieri a chip-shot game winner. Matt Hasselbeck, another player who was active in the 1990's, threw for 282 yards and a touchdown in his first start since 2012, a number that could have been higher had he not been the victim of several drops early in the game.
Jacksonville's special teams even burned them a few times in the game. Their first punt return was fumbled, but they recovered the ball. Their second was fumbled inside their own five, but an illegal touching penalty allowed them to hold on to the ball. Not to be outdone, rookie kicker Jason Myers hooked a 48-yard field goal in overtime that would have put the Jags at 2-2. Every phase of the game failed them at points, but this team really shouldn't be overlooked. There's talent on this team that will eventually click and start winning games.
What to watch for: Continuing on the theme from last week, can they ever have all phases of the game running at the same time? The offense could be explosive if Bortles can show some consistency, something that could be helped if Yeldon could consistently find holes and gain yards. The defense needs to play for all sixty minutes, and then some if necessary. They looked good in pass coverage at times, but a better defense could have made Hasselbeck pay for a few of his throws, including his touchdown pass. Even the Jaguars special teams needs to take advantage of the opportunities they have. Missed field goals happen (something NFL coaches seem less and less understanding of), so Marks will need to learn how to shake it off and come out strong in his next few games if he hopes to be kicking past this season.
Players to watch: WRs named Allen. If there has been one bright spot for the Jaguars throughout this season, it has been the strong play of their top receivers, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, who are both in the top 15 in the NFL in receiving yards. Hurns had his turn last week, but Robinson had his turn in the sun in week two, catching six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in Jacksonville's win against Miami. They've done plenty to make the Jaguars fans forget about Justin Blackmon.