|NFL Week 12: Bills at Jaguars Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 22 November 2007 02:32|
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had little trouble overcoming injuries to key players.
They'll look to do it again Sunday in trying for a third straight win when they host the Buffalo Bills, who are hoping to bounce back from the worst loss in franchise history.
Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Jacksonville -9 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 35.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Jacksonville -9 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Quarterback David Garrard returned from an ankle injury to help Jacksonville beat San Diego 24-17 last Sunday, but middle linebacker and defensive leader Mike Peterson broke his right hand in the win and will be sidelined indefinitely.
Peterson, who tops the team with 116 tackles, is the eighth starter to miss time for the Jaguars (7-3) but they enter the weekend tied for the third-best record in the AFC. Daryl Smith is likely to move to Peterson's spot, with rookie Justin Durant taking Smith's outside linebacker position.
"It's not the first time we're going to have to replace somebody and have to keep rolling," said Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, whose team went 2-1 with Quinn Gray at quarterback in place of Garrard. "We're going to do what we always do, and that's plug somebody in and expect that guy to step in, step up and play well for us and help us win."
The Jaguars, who have won three of four, are second in the competitive AFC South and can earn a share of the lead with a win Sunday if first-place Indianapolis loses Thursday night at Atlanta.
Jacksonville plays at Indianapolis next weekend, but can't look past Buffalo (5-5), which is second in the AFC East and two games behind the wild-card leading Jaguars.
The Bills are looking to show they are still legitimate playoff contenders after being handed the most lopsided defeat in their history last Sunday with a 56-10 home loss to New England. Buffalo had a four-game winning streak snapped.
"We do get added motivation because of the way we lost," Buffalo safety Donte Whitner said. "If we go and win (at Jacksonville), people will pretty much forget about this loss."
The Bills' struggling offense, ranked 31st and averaging 268.3 yards per game, will be in for a challenge against the Jaguars, even without Peterson.
Jacksonville has allowed a combined 30 points in wins over Tennessee and San Diego since giving up season highs in points and total yards (538) in a 41-24 loss at New Orleans on Nov. 4.
The return of Garrard also provides a boost.
He was 15-for-24 for 189 yards with two touchdowns last Sunday, directing three scoring drives in the first half in his first action since injuring his ankle in a 29-7 home loss to the Colts on Nov. 22.
"That's why he's our leader," Jaguars receiver Ernest Wilford said. "He's one of the guys who's moving the chains and making plays and making everyone else look better. That's what you look for in your quarterback, to make everyone around him better."
Garrard has gone a team-record seven consecutive games without an interception. He didn't have one the last time he faced Buffalo, going 16-for-22 for 132 yards and two touchdowns last Nov. 26, but the Jaguars lost 27-24 when Rian Lindell made a 42-yard field as time expired.
Running back Fred Taylor ran for 101 yards on 22 carries in that game, but remains in search of his first 100-yard game this season. He rushed for 85 yards on 20 attempts last weekend while Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 33 yards on 12 carries.
Buffalo has surrendered 270 rushing yards over the past two weeks.
The Bills hope to reverse that trend and improve to 3-0 at Jacksonville, while overcoming a loss last week which saw them give up the most points by any home team since 1973.
Buffalo also lost 38-7 at New England on Sept. 23, but rebounded to win five of its next six.
"We're approaching the next six games with the mind-set of winning all six, but at least five, because 10 (wins) will get you into the playoffs," Buffalo defensive end Chris Kelsay said. "We want to put this one behind us. It's in the past."
The Bills' recovery would be made easier if they knew rookie running back Marshawn Lynch would play, but his status remains uncertain due to a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss last week's game.
"He wants to play. He still thinks he should've played last week," Jauron said. "But he's just real sore."
Lynch has rushed for 751 yards and all six of the team's touchdowns on the ground.
J.P. Losman will start at quarterback Sunday despite a modest performance against New England. Losman was 15-for-26 for 173 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He has thrown just three TD passes in seven games, and has three interceptions in three games since being re-inserted as the starter over Trent Edwards.
"It's another opportunity for me. I'm thankful for that," said Losman, who was 21-for-28 for 169 yards with an interception against Jacksonville last season. "We've got another chance here to go on a run."
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