Grab a latte and a laptop.
Buffalo and Jacksonville flew across the pond to play an early-morning game in London on Sunday that will be televised in both local markets but streamed digitally to the rest of the United States. It’s unprecedented and unusual, and few, if any, Jaguars player even knew about the strange setup.
“Wait, this game isn’t on TV?” safety Josh Evans said. “I didn’t even know that. People have to watch it online?”
“We’re flying nine hours for a game that’s on the Internet?” Jaguars defensive end Jared Odrick said, drawing laughs from teammates sitting near his locker.
Maybe that comes with being Buffalo and Jacksonville.
The Bills (3-3) have the missed the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons — the NFL’s longest active playoff drought. The Jaguars (1-5) have six losing records in the last seven years and are a league-worst 10-44 over the last four seasons.
So they ended up being part of the NFL’s streaming experiment.
“I can make it sound good and say it means a lot,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said. “It is just a game for us. We don’t know who is shooting it, seeing it, whatever you say. That is cool we are the first one.”
Both teams enter the game with key injuries and trying to fix defensive woes.
The Bills will be without quarterback Tyrod Taylor (sprained left knee) for a second straight game. Veteran defensive Kyle Williams, receiver Sammie Watkins, receiver Percy Harvin, running back Karlos Williams and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson also have been ruled out. Running back LeSean McCoy is playing with a nagging hamstring injury.
Buffalo also had a number of defensive linemen speak out in frustration about dropping into coverage instead of rushing quarterbacks.
The Jaguars are starting to get healthy after playing several games without tight end Julius Thomas, defensive end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks. The more pressing problem has been mounting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Coach Gus Bradley vowed to blitz Bills backup quarterback EJ Manuel early and often.
“We have to look at whether what we gain outweighs what we could give up,” Bradley said. “Right now, we have one interception in six games. To bring pressure with the idea of affecting the quarterback to get more turnovers, I think that’s the stage we’re at right now.”
Here are some other things to know about Buffalo and Jacksonville as they prepare to play in London:
HOUSE BENCHED: The Jaguars have benched a starter for the second consecutive week. After sitting safety Sergio Brown last week, Bradley said cornerback Davon House will join him on the sideline against Buffalo. House gave up five catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins. Bradley hopes House responds to the move by working harder and focusing more for an entire game.
MARRONE REVISITED: The game features Doug Marrone‘s former team against his current one. Marrone opted out of his contract as Buffalo’s head coach after last season and landed in Jacksonville three weeks later as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Bills players questioned Marrone’s loyalty in leaving after a 9-7 season — Buffalo’s best finish in a decade — and with two years remaining on his contract. Marrone declined to talk about the Bills this week.
MANUEL AGAIN: Manuel has six career wins, including one against Jacksonville. Manuel completed 17 of 24 passes for 193 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception in a 27-20 victory at Jacksonville in December 2013.
TAX BILL: Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller is making his fifth trip to London, and he doesn’t even want to know how much he’s been taxed from playing abroad. In London, the top tax rate is 45 percent. And players notice it on pay day. “After the first time, I told myself I won’t look at anymore,” Miller said. “I just don’t. I don’t know why or what. Maybe they’re converting our money into pounds or reading it as pounds and taxing us like that. But it’s a heck of a tax, no doubt.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.