LONDON – They're confident again, and the Jaguars' good feeling is back.
Those positives are about to be tested in a big way.
The Jaguars, who beat the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium last week, will play the second of their 2023 back-to-back London games Sunday – this time as the road team against the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
It's a tall task for the Jaguars, perhaps their tallest of the season to date.
It's the second of five games this season for the 2022 AFC South champion Jaguars against other '22 division champions. The Jaguars lost to the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, 17-9, in Week 2.
Sunday's matchup figures to be as difficult as the Chiefs game, perhaps more so. The Bills have won the last three AFC East titles and lead the division with a 3-1 record after a 48-20 victory over previously unbeaten Miami this past Sunday.
The Bills since a Week 1 loss to the New York Jets have won their last three games by a total of 90 points, having won 38-10 over the Las Vegas Raiders and 37-3 over the Washington Commanders in Weeks 2 and 3.
They are perhaps the NFL's hottest team entering Week 5, with the Jaguars needing a victory to ensure they keep pace in an AFC South in which all four teams – the Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans – enter the week at 2-2.
If the Jaguars win, they'll move into Week 5 assured of at least being tied for first. They'll also be again perceived nationally as a favorite to contend for the postseason.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars must do to get that victory:
1. Score. A lot. The Bills have been one of the league's best offenses in recent seasons. They are the NFL's second-highest scoring team this season. The Jaguars are scoring 20 points per game this season and figure to need at least a touchdown more than that Sunday.
2. Keep forcing turnovers. The Jaguars' defense was fourth in the NFL in takeaways last season with 27 and are fourth his season with nine. They have forced three turnovers in three of four games this season. When the defense is good, it forces mistakes. The one game in which the Jaguars did not have a takeaway was their worst loss of the season, 37-17 to the Houston Texans in Week 3.
3. Force Josh Allen into mistakes, which means …. This is about Bills quarterback Josh Allen not Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen. The Bills' quarterback is elite and one of the NFL's most dangerous offensive players. He occasionally will have multi-turnover games. The Jaguars must make this such an occasion.
4. … hitting Josh Allen and getting him down. Allen isn't just one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. He also may be the biggest, strongest and one of the fastest. He's a rare quarterback capable of breaking tackles like a running back and beating you deep in the passing game. Defending him is a unique, physical challenge.
5. Convert third downs. The Jaguars haven't done this enough this season. If this trend continues, they'll struggle against more teams than the Bills.
6. Score touchdowns in the red zone. See No. 6.
7. Get home, Josh Allen. This is about Jaguars outside linebacker Josh Allen and not Bills quarterback Josh Allen. The Jaguars outside linebacker has six sacks in four games. He always has gotten good pressure on the quarterback. This season, he's getting the sacks as a payoff. He had a monster game in the Jaguars' 9-6 victory over the Bills in 2021. He may need a similar effort Sunday.
8. Distribute the ball. The Jaguars' offense felt more at ease last week, which meant there seemed to be more balance among quarterback Trevor Lawrence's targets. That felt like the right direction.
9. Protect Lawrence. This has been a theme all season and will keep being a theme until it's not. Lawrence has been under too much pressure too often. He hasn't looked comfortable in the pocket and the timing with receivers seems to have suffered. The Jaguars' inconsistency on offense probably will continue until he gets more comfortable.
10. Run block better. The Jaguars struggled to create space for running back Travis Etienne Jr. last Sunday. That hasn't been a season-long trend, but it can't become one, either.
10a.Play the best game of the season by far. The Jaguars have yet to play a complete game. That's what it likely will take to win Sunday.