Thad’s Three Things: Bills at Jaguars

NFL

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) signals while exiting the field after an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021 in Orchard Park, NY. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

Three things on my mind as the Bills head south to take on Jacksonville…

To Play Or Not To Play

I’m very curious to see how much Cole Beasley will play this week. He gutted it out for the end of last week’s game riding a hot streak of targets despite a rib injury. Beasley did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and was limited on Friday. Rib injuries are generally only a pain tolerance thing. There’s usually not much of a risk of further injury (and yes, I have zero medical degrees to back that information up).

Beasley is still a vital cog in this offense, as the last couple games have proven. He is also still Josh Allen’s primary blitz release valve when other defenses try to attack. It’s a tactic they have often used against the Bills this year.

This is certainly not a guy the Bills want to mess around with health-wise. You don’t want to take the Jaguars too much for granted, but you would think Buffalo could get by this week without Beasley or with significantly less of him. That may not be the case down the road for games against the Colts, Saints, Bucs and Patriots.

What Do We Have That’s Good

There’s not a whole lot on this Jaguars team that should intimidate anybody, but running back James Robinson is one of those players. Like Beasley, he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was only limited on Friday nursing a heel injury. He is one of the NFL’s best kept secrets because he plays for a bottom feeder. Robinson is legitimately talented and dynamic as a receiver and a runner.

This Jacksonville offensive line, at least by the numbers, isn’t all that bad either. Jacksonville averages the second most yards per carry in the NFL and they’ve only allowed 11 sacks. There are just three teams that have allowed less (Buffalo is one of them at 8).

If Robinson were fully healthy, I could build a fairly compelling case for the possibility of a Jacksonville upset. It would involve controlling the clock with the run game, keeping Trevor Lawrence clean and, obviously, a number of good breaks and turnovers. However, it doesn’t seem like Robinson will be that close to 100%. Bills fans actually might end up feeling a little cheated not be able to see him at his best.

Ford Tough

The Bills offensive line will shuffle again with Spencer Brown and now also John Feliciano out this week. I think the most likely replacement scenario is Darrel Williams going back to tackle (as he did last week when Brown was out) with Ike Boettger and Cody Ford at guard.

This might be the last best chance the former second round pick has to latch on as a starter in Buffalo. Injuries certainly derailed Ford in the first two years of his career and yet, the Bills still often expressed their confidence in his ability.

After an absolutely woeful game against Washington, Ford was just flat benched and, essentially, hasn’t been heard from since. The Jags should not offer much resistance on their defensive line outside of Josh Allen and he should spend most of this game on the edge far away from where he would make Ford jittery.

Don’t discount the possibility of Tommy Doyle replacing Brown at tackle and Williams kicking back inside, but I think Ford will get one final opportunity to prove that high draft pick and all the nice things the Bills have said about him were not misplaced.

The Pick

Just like last week, there is no drama for this prediction. It’s going to be a Bills win. In fact, we will revisit the Mitch Meter in a bit.

I do think the Jaguars will have a bounce back game after just a dreadful performance in Seattle. That seems pretty typical for most young and growing teams. They’re not terrible every week. They’re just terribly inconsistent. Following a stinker last Sunday, I think they play better this week.

The Jags are not super terrible on offense. Trevor Lawrence is learning, but he does flash the playmaker abilities from time to time. Marvin Jones is legit solid receiver and, of course, there’s the aforementioned Robinson.

The big problem for Jacksonville is on defense. There is just no way I think this team can cause Buffalo even the slightest speed bump on their way to the end zone for most possessions. Expect Allen to have a field day and any Bills on your fantasy team should be in your starting lineup.

As a side note, I really hope that the Jacksonville Josh Allen does get a sack of the Buffalo Josh Allen. It was my greatest fear (and I think I speak for most reporters here) that the Bills would somehow land Jacksonville Josh Allen after already grabbing their own Josh Allen. It would have created a decade-long headache of titanic proportions for all of us who cover this team on a regular basis having to delineate which Josh Allen we were talking about. Even writing this paragraph is giving me the shakes. For one game, however, it would be pretty cool. As the Bills PR staff smartly noted this week, it’s only the fourth time in NFL history a quarterback has faced a defensive player with the exact same name.

All that fun aside, this should be another pretty easy Bills win. The Mitch Meter is showing a 45 percent chance of seeing Trubisky in this game late. Give me Buffalo 37-17.

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