Bills-Jaguars Preview

The Jacksonville Jaguars remain confident while not getting too

caught up in their modest second-half turnaround.

They’ll try for their first four-game winning streak in six

seasons Sunday while looking to hand the reeling Buffalo Bills a

fifth consecutive year of double-digit losses.

Jacksonville (4-9) has won three straight for the first time

since 2010 and four of five after an 0-8 start. Though the Jaguars

will attempt to win four in a row for the first time since Sept.

16-Oct. 14, 2007, first-year coach Gus Bradley wants his team to

continue its progression while maintaining some perspective amid

the franchise’s sixth consecutive season without a winning

record.

“Our guys just really believe,” Bradley said. “The biggest

challenge is to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re a young team

that’s learning how to do this.

“I don’t want us feeling like we did some good things, we

accomplished some things. We’re getting better and we still have a

lot of work to do.”

Jacksonville has averaged 23.0 points in the last five games

while facing four opponents with losing records, including two

against a Houston team mired in a franchise-worst 11-game slide.

The Jaguars averaged 10.8 points over the first eight while playing

five opponents that currently have winning records.

Last week’s 27-20 win over the Texans snapped Jacksonville’s

seven-game home skid.

However, a favorable second-half schedule hasn’t stopped the

Jaguars from calling out members of the media or opposing players

who have put down a club that lost 20 of 21 before winning 29-27 at

Tennessee on Nov. 10.

“They still talk trash about us,” said Maurice Jones-Drew, who

rushed for a season-high 103 yards on 14 carries last week. “We are

going to keep getting better and we are going to keep making plays.

We are going to keep doing our thing and be happy for everyone

around us.”

Jones-Drew, who has rushed for 264 yards and 5.2 per carry over

the last three games, likely won’t be available Sunday to follow up

on his big game. He was listed as doubtful Friday due to a strained

hamstring after seeming optimistic earlier in the week that he’d be

ready to play.

Jones-Drew isn’t the only hurting Jaguar. Safety Johnathan

Cyprien is also doubtful with a thigh injury and receiver Cecil

Shorts is questionable with a groin injury that’s plagued him for

much of the season.

If Jones-Drew can’t go, Jordan Todman likely will start and

versatile rookie Denard Robinson could see more time in the

backfield. Todman caught a 21-yard TD pass from receiver Ace

Sanders last week.

Chad Henne has thrown four TD passes in the last two games, the

same total he had through his first 10.

The Jaguars allowed an average of 161.8 rushing yards through

the first eight games but 70.8 per contest in the last five.

Buffalo (4-9) was held to a season-low 67 rushing yards while

falling to 1-5 on the road with a 27-6 loss at Tampa Bay last

Sunday. The Bills held a closed-door meeting following their fifth

loss in six games.

This is Buffalo’s ninth straight losing season. One more defeat

will give the team a fifth year in a row of reaching at least 10

defeats and sixth consecutive last-place finish in the AFC

East.

“I think you look at where we stand right now, you can question

everything,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “Everything’s a

red flag. Everything’s discouraging right now. But we have to get

guys, all of us, to respond and respond better.”

That likely begins with rookie EJ Manuel, who remains the

starter even after he threw four interceptions and was sacked seven

times while guiding an offense that totaled a season-low 214 yards

against the Buccaneers.

Manuel has endured a rough rookie season in which he missed four

games with a knee injury. He’s been sacked 24 times in nine

contests while completing 57.8 percent of his passes with nine TDs

and eight INTs.

“Do I want to be standing here having to go through these pains

of what’s going on? Absolutely not,” first-year coach Doug Marrone

said of Manuel’s play. “But I’ve learned over the years that this

is the stuff you go through. And you have to just put your head

down and just keep working.

“He has the ability to do it. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Manuel is 0-4 in road games and the Bills have lost their last

three, averaging 246.7 total yards while being outscored 85-33.

Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, held to 34 rushing yards on 16

carries at Tampa Bay, combined to run for 186 yards during

Buffalo’s 34-18 home win over Jacksonville last season.

Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso is questionable for Sunday after

suffering a setback in practice Friday. Coach Doug Marrone says

that Alonso, who was limited in practice earlier in the week,

”tweaked” his knee Friday.

The rookie has been a standout in his first season and is second

in the NFL with 131 tackles.

”Talking to him, in his mind he wants to play,” Marrone said.

”We’ve got 48 hours and we’ll see how it goes.”