For the second Sunday in a row, we are blessed with an NFL game to watch while still wearing our pajamas – and not be ridiculed for it.
After waking up to see the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 last Sunday morning, the Jags continue their London residency, but move out of Andy’s room and into Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
While the Jaguars methodically defeated the Falcons in Week 4, the Bills put the rest of the league on notice with an emphatic 48-20 win over the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins – a team that was coming off the best offensive performance in the Super Bowl era.
The win moved the Bills atop the AFC East and the way they made the Dolphins look rather ordinary instantly made Buffalo a frontrunner with the Kansas City Chiefs to come out of the AFC. Our projection model now gives Buffalo a 16.1% chance of reaching the Super Bowl, with only the Chiefs’ 19.7% probability being higher among AFC teams.
Our model gives the Jaguars just a 0.9% chance of playing in the Super Bowl, but they’re thoroughly entrenched in the race for the AFC South title as all four teams in the division sport identical 2-2 records.
The next obstacle for the Bills is to avoid a letdown in a game ranked fifth in the Week 5 slate, according to our SmartRatings, which rates the entertainment value of each game.
And just to add a little wrinkle to the test and make things more interesting, instead of playing a fellow playoff contender in Orchard Park, the Bills must travel across the Atlantic and deal with jet lag for a “home” game in a city where their opponent has been living for more than a week with their body clocks fully adjusted to the time difference.
Sounds like a significant challenge, but the Bills rose to the occasion last week in dismantling the team many had anointed as the favorite to win the Super Bowl. They’re sportsbooks’ moneyline favorites and our supercomputer agrees, making the Bills the best bets with a 70.6% win probability.
It’s hard to pinpoint what was more impressive in last week’s trouncing of Miami, Josh Allen throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns without an interception while posting a career-best 158.3 QB rating to lead the offense to scores on eight of their first nine possessions (excluding a QB kneel down to end the first half) or the fact the defense held the Dolphins to 50 fewer points than they scored the week before.
Allen, Stefon Diggs and James Cook have the Buffalo offense humming after a forgettable showing in a season-opening 22-16 loss to the New York Jets with the offense scoring 38, 37 and 48 points in three wins over the Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders and Dolphins since that NFL Week 1 debacle while churning out successful plays at a 46.2% clip.
Even with a subpar showing against a stout Jets defense, the Bills still lead the NFL in overall scoring efficiency, with 57.1% of their 42 offensive drives ending with points (15 TD drives, 9 field goals).
Offensive Scoring Efficiency (NFL AVG. 36.5%)
- Buffalo Bills (57.1%)
- San Francisco 49ers (56.1%)
- Dallas Cowboys (53.8%)
- Philadelphia Eagles (51.1%)
- Miami Dolphins (51.1%)
With the Bills proving they’re fully capable of piling up points in a hurry, Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense face the difficult task of keeping up with Allen and company.
The underdog Jaguars haven’t done much to impress offensively of late, ranking 17th in yards per play (4.95), 19th in scoring efficiency (31.9%) and 19th in percentage of successful plays (37.2), but there’s reason to believe it can take a step forward – and maybe take advantage of a banged-up Buffalo secondary.
Cam Robinson has been reinstated after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and is expected to slide right back into his starting role at left tackle.
JAX: Establishing the Run
Despite having one of the league’s most dynamic running backs in Travis Etienne, Jacksonville has been unable to establish a ground game, and the hope is Robinson can shore up the line.
Jaguars Rushing Offense (With NFL Ranks)
- Percent of Successful Running Plays (29.6/4th Worst)
- Percent of Running Plays for 10+ Yards (6.3/4th Worst)
- Average Yards to Left Side (2.67/4th Worst)
Against the Falcons, the Jags bounced back from losses in their previous two games to the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. However, they failed to pick up a first down on six of nine third-down attempts that needed 5 yards or less. And on the season, they’ve converted just four of nine third-down attempts of less than 4 yards while running the ball. That conversion rate of 44.4 is the fifth worst in the league while the NFL average is 67.7%.
Etienne rushed the ball 20 times last Sunday, with only two carries going for at least 5 yards. On the season, he’s averaging just 3.77 yards per attempt after averaging 5.11 yards per carry as a rookie in 2022 – fourth among qualifying running backs.
Part of the reason for the decline is that the offensive line isn’t giving him clean running lanes, as he’s averaging 1.96 yards before contact in the last three weeks. Last season, he was averaging 3.29 yards before contact – second in the NFL among the 42 running backs with at least 100 carries.
He’s finding out the hard way it’s not easy to pick up yards when you’re getting hit just past the line of scrimmage.
With Robinson returning, fill-in left tackle Walker Little is expected to move over to left guard to take over for veteran backup Tyler Shatley, who had replaced the benched Ben Bartch.
BUF: Stopping the Run
Jacksonville’s new-look o-line won’t get to ease into things as it faces one of the league’s top defenses, but as strong as Buffalo’s defense has been, it’s been vulnerable against the run.
The Bills are second in scoring defense (13.8), fifth in opponent third-down percentage (30.8) and sixth in total defense (288.0 yards per game), and last Sunday they bottled up an offense that came in averaging nearly a first down a play.
After allowing Miami to score on both of its first-quarter possessions, Buffalo stiffened, forcing three three-and-outs, two turnovers and three fourth-down stops on the Dolphins’ final nine drives. The Bills defense sacked Tua Tagovailoa four times after he had been sacked only once over the first three games.
While they managed to curb the Dolphins’ offensive production, they still struggled to stop De’Von Achane and the run – which has been an ongoing issue for them. Miami rushed for 142 yards on just 19 attempts with five runs going for at least 10 yards.
On the season, Buffalo is yielding an NFL-worst average of 6.32 yards per rush – 0.73 yards worse than the next-closest team (Denver Broncos) – and has routinely been gashed for big gains on the ground.
Bills Rushing Defense (With NFL Ranks)
- Average Yards Allowed Per Rush (6.32/Worst)
- Percent of Running Plays Allowed of 10+ Yards (18.7/Worst)
- Average Yards Allowed Before Contact (3.6/2nd Worst)
Buffalo’s shaky run defense opens up the possibility for Etienne and the Jacksonville ground game to find its footing. Especially, when you notice opponents are able to gain better than 3.5 yards before getting touched.
The Bills, though, appear to be getting edge rusher Von Miller back for this showdown, with the NFL’s active leader in sacks returning to practice Wednesday after beginning the season on the physically unable-to-perform list.
His potential return makes an already ferocious pass rush even more menacing, as Buffalo’s 16 sacks and 32 QB hits are both tied for the most in the NFL.
While one member of the defense is poised to return, the Bills will be without Tre’Davious White after the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback suffered a torn right Achilles tendon against the Dolphins and requires season-ending surgery.
White’s injury leaves Buffalo particularly thin in the secondary with only three cornerbacks on their active roster, meaning Kaiir Elam will likely get the call to step in after being a healthy inactive for the season’s first four games. Elam would then join two other corners who have exactly been locking down opposing receivers.
Nickel cornerback Taron Johnson has a burn-allowed percentage of 77.8 – the second-worst mark among 27 inside corners with at last 25 plays in pass coverage – while Christian Benford has been on the wrong end of several big plays.
Benford has a burn-allowed percentage of 64.3 – below the league average for outside cornerbacks of 52.9 – and has an ugly average of 29.03 burn yards per target – easily the worst among 53 outside corners with at least 40 plays in pass coverage.
Again, Lawrence and the offense are putting up pedestrian numbers – he’s 14th in average passing yards (235.8) and 17th in passer rating (89.0) – but no quarterback with a minimum of 75 attempts has a higher well-thrown percentage than his mark of 87.9.
So, Lawrence should be able to deliver an accurate ball to tight end Evan Engram and receivers Christian Kirk and Calvin Ridley – and possibly Zay Jones – if they can take advantage of Buffalo’s depleted defense.
The Bills may be one of the teams to beat in the AFC right now, but the opportunity is there for Jacksonville to catch its possibly jet-legged opponent off guard and take advantage of some weaknesses, allowing the Jaguars to return from their London holiday with two more victories than they had when they left for England.
Check out the rest of our picks, along with every team’s chances at making the playoffs in our NFL season predictions. We also have all the college football top 25 predictions for Week 6. And don’t forget to follow us on X and Instagram.