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2023 NFL season: Three things to watch for in Jaguars-Bills in London

It's time for part two of the NFL's three-game 2023 slate in London, with the Jacksonville Jaguars facing the Buffalo Bills in a meeting of the two most frequent international travelers.

The Bills (3-1) come to the United Kingdom riding a three-game winning streak, most recently taking down the high-scoring Miami Dolphins, 48-20, in a game in which quarterback Josh Allen finished with 320 passing yards, five total touchdowns and a perfect passer rating.

The Jaguars, in contrast, climbed back up to 2-2 on the year with last week's 23-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons, also bringing their all-time London record up to .500 (5-5) with the victory.

Now, having stayed in England for a second straight week to be the first team to play back-to-back international games in NFL history, the Jaguars will welcome the Bills, though Buffalo is technically the home team in this one. The Bills have played eight games out of the United States but only once before in London (2015). That game was also against the Jaguars, with Jacksonville taking home a 34-31 win.

Eight years later, will this game's outcome be the same, with the Jaguars defending their home away from home? Or will the Bills continue their high-scoring ways en route to another win?

Here are three things to watch for when the Jaguars and Bills square off in London on Sunday, streaming on NFL+:

Jacksonville Jaguars
2023 · 2-2-0
Buffalo Bills
2023 · 3-1-0

  1. JAX looks to keep up winning ways. The Jaguars got back in the win column last week after a couple of tough losses, and the offense looked more comfortable against the Falcons. Trevor Lawrence went 23-for-30 passing with a season-best 76.7 completion percentage, multiple receivers got in on the action, and the team had zero turnovers for the first time this season. It wasn’t flashy, but it was a complete game, and the Jags will look to build on it this week. This will be a tall task, as they face the Bills’ powerhouse defense, which ranks fourth in passing yards allowed and leads the league in takeaways (11). Though beating the Bills through the air might be a difficult endeavor, Jacksonville could try to take advantage of Buffalo’s comparative weakness in stopping explosive runners. The Bills rank dead-last in yards per carry allowed (6.3), most recently allowing the Dolphins’ De’Von Achane to rack up 101 yards on eight carries. Travis Etienne has not been explosive this year, having yet to hit the 100-plus rushing mark in a game yet, but the running back will be hoping to get things going and take advantage of that chink in the Bills’ armor. 
  2. Buffalo D gets good and bad news. Speaking of the Bills’ defense, it's so far this season ranked No. 2 in the league. Week 5, however, comes with changes to the unit, both bad and possibly good. On the bad side is the season-ending Achilles injury to Tre’Davious White, which robs a Bills secondary that was already dealing with myriad injuries of a Pro Bowl cornerback. The Bills will hope players such as Dane Jackson and Kaiir Elam step up in White’s absence to avoid a drop-off that could allow for a big day for the Jaguars. On the other end of the injury spectrum is the chance that Buffalo could welcome back a Pro Bowl pass rusher in Von Miller (ACL), who returned to practice this week and said that it was a "safe bet" he'd play Sunday in London. The Bills have been top notch in pressuring opposing QBs even with Miller sidelined this season (entering Week 5 tied for the league lead with 16 sacks). Getting Miller back from injured reserve will bolster the front, but the unit, even without Gregory Rousseau (out, foot), could give Jacksonville trouble as is.
  3. Two Josh Allens duke it out. The Bills’ offense has been dynamic this season with Josh Allen at the helm, scoring at least 37 points in each of their last three games. In the Jaguars’ attempt to stifle this potent offense, a key battle to watch could be between Josh Allen (the Bills quarterback) and Josh Allen (the Jaguars linebacker). Allen the linebacker, just like his counterpart, has gotten off to a hot start in 2023 as the linchpin of the Jacksonville front, having recorded six sacks -- tied for the league lead -- and becoming the first player to record three sacks in an overseas game last week. This is not the first time the two same-named players have dueled, as the pair faced off in Week 9 of 2021. The Jaguars won 9-6, Allen (the linebacker) had a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery in the win, and Allen (the quarterback) was limited to zero TDs and a 62.7 passer rating. Who will win the battle this time around?

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