NFL Week 7 Betting – Bills, Jags Head to UK
Zack GarrisonNo comments
The second game of the NFL International Series pits the Buffalo Bills (3-3, 3-3 ATS) against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5, 2-4 ATS) this Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London (9:30 AM Eastern).
The Bills are currently at .500 after getting dominated at home for the better part of 60 minutes by the the Bengals last weekend (34-21). While the offensive issues in that game can largely be written off thanks to injuries to starting QB Tyrod Taylor and number one receiver Sammy Watkins, the defense is a different story.
Expected to be the backbone of a burgeoning Bills team, the defense has been up and down. Some weeks they’ve looked like an upper-echelon unit (see Week 1 at Indy); others have seen them get torched (see Week 2 vs. the Patriots). Facing the Bengals was an opportunity to make a statement against one of the league’s best offenses; instead, Buffalo failed to register a single sack or turnover and gave up four touchdowns to Andy Dalton and company.
With just nine QB takedowns through six games, the pass rush is well off last season’s league-leading pace (54 for the year).
Adding to the problems for the Bills, the injuries are starting to pile up. Joining Taylor (knee) and Watkins (ankle) on the injury report are wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip/personal reasons), tackle Kyle Williams (knee), safety Aaron Williams (neck), and cornerback Leodis McKelvin (ankle), none of whom made the trip to London.
With Taylor out of commission, backup EJ Manuel will make his second straight start. He was serviceable against Cincinnati, completing 28 of 42 passes for one touchdown and one interception, but the team really missed Taylor’s running and scrambling ability. Manuel was sacked twice and registered just 22 rush yards on six attempts (3.6 YPC; Taylor has 186 rush yards on the year at a 6.0 YPC clip).
The good news for the Bills is that they’ll be facing a Jaguars team that’s allowed at least 30 points in three of its last four games. The 50-burger they gave up in New England (51-17) can be forgiven, but surrendering 38 to the Bucs (38-31) and 31 to the Texans (31-20) – two of the worst teams in the league – cannot. Head coach Gus Bradley, the architect of the Seattle defense from 2008 to 2012, needs to get the Jags’ D going if the team is going to remain competitive on a week-to-week basis.
The poor performance from the defense has been especially disappointing given the improved play of second-year QB Blake Bortles. Though he’s thrown seven picks on the season (seventh-most in the league), he’s already surpassed his TD total from last year (11) with 13 majors through six games and is on pace for well over 3,000 yards. Bortles has the Jags averaging nearly 19 PPG – not an eye-popping number and still near the bottom of the league, but much better than the 15.5 they mustered last year.
With all the Bills’ injuries on offense, the Jags are a tempting bet. But the better play actually looks like the over. It’s at a fairly low 42 even though both teams have been involved in a number of high-scoring games this year. The injuries on the Buffalo offense have driven that number, but the Jags are apt to get lit up by even Manuel. (The trends also favor the over, with five of the last seven between the squads hitting the over.)
Pick: OVER 42.