The Jacksonville Jaguars will play a game in London for the second consecutive week, but this time, they’re the road team, as the Buffalo Bills are the home team for this Week 5 matchup. Against the Atlanta Falcons last week, Jacksonville won 23-7 to even their record for the season at 2-2. So far, in games played at EverBank Stadium, the Jags are 0-2; in games played elsewhere, they are 2-0.
“Elsewhere” is where this game takes place, as the Jags play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this week. They were at Wembley Stadium last week, which is the same place where these two franchises met in London during the 2015 season. The names and faces have changed since then, but the need for a win from both sides remains the same.
If the Bills are going to fly home from London as a winner, they’ll need to contain Jacksonville’s top players. Here are five we’re watching this weekend.
QB Trevor Lawrence
The young quarterback is off to a so-so start so far this season. Lawrence has completed a healthy 67% of his passes for 943 yards, but he has just four touchdowns so far. On the plus side, he’s also only thrown two interceptions and taken eight sacks in four games. However, Lawrence hasn’t exactly had the kind of start worthy of a player of his draft pedigree. If the Bills can generate pressure with their front-four at a similar rate they have so far this year, then Lawrence is in for a long day. How Jacksonville’s offensive line protects him from the likes of Ed Oliver, Leonard Floyd, and potentially Greg Rousseau (who has missed practice this week with a foot injury) and Von Miller (who’s traveling with the team to London) will go a long way toward determining the game’s outcome.
RB Travis Etienne
The Clemson product has big-play potential, but he hasn’t done much in the explosive-play department this year. Etienne has a total of 260 yards rushing, but he’s averaging just 3.8 yards per rush. The Bills have allowed a league-worst 6.3 yards per rushing attempt so far — total definitely boosted by some big runs allowed. Regardless, Buffalo’s defense has shown that it will give up a big play here and there in the run game, and Etienne is someone with the explosiveness to exploit that weakness. He’s also a dynamic receiving back, even though the numbers don’t quite bear that out this year (14 receptions for 96 yards).
WR Calvin Ridley
There are targets who have seen more balls thrown their way — tight end Evan Engram and wideout Christian Kirk with 29 and 35 targets, respectively — but Ridley is definitely a dangerous threat thanks to his speed in all areas of the field. Ridley has been targeted 28 times, third-most on the team, but he has just 15 catches on the year. Those 15 catches have gone for a total of 211 yards and two touchdowns, though. Whether it’s Christian Benford, Dane Jackson, or Kaiir Elam covering him, the Bills will need to make sure to provide some help over the top to limit Ridley’s big-play ability. Forcing the Jaguars to stay underneath and matriculate down the field would be a win for Buffalo’s defense.
EDGE Josh Allen
The last time edge rusher Josh Allen squared up with quarterback Josh Allen, the former had the latter’s number. Jacksonville’s Allen had eight tackles, one sack, one interception, one fumble recovery, two tackles for loss, one pass breakup, and one quarterback hit in a riveting 9-6 victory. Thanks to poor offensive line play and a nonexistent running game, the Bills’ Josh Allen was running for his life throughout the contest, and his namesake was a big part of the reason why. This season, Buffalo’s offensive line has been superb. They’ll need to neutralize the other Josh Allen in order for our Josh Allen to thrive.
CB Tyson Campbell
Jacksonville’s pass defense is ranked just 22nd in the league so far, but their top corner, Darious Williams, has been stout. Williams has allowed just 43% of the passes thrown his way to be completed, and he has six pass breakups and an interception already this season. Campbell has been the weaker link of the two, and chances are good that Buffalo will have the matchup advantage regardless of which wideout they have lined up across from him on Sunday. Campbell has allowed 62% of the passes thrown his way to be completed for a total of 172 yards and two touchdowns. Whether it’s Stefon Diggs or Gabe Davis, Buffalo is in good shape if they see Campbell in coverage. The Bills will probably try to exploit this particular matchup throughout the game.