Irresistible Force vs the Immovable Object

STEELERS vs Jaguars PLAYOFF PREVIEW 

The Jacksonville Jaguars bring their 10-6 regular season record to Heinz Field to meet the 13-3 Pittsburgh Steelers at 1:05 this Sunday afternoon for the AFC Divisional Round.

The Jaguars flex their league-leading passing defense in trying to match up with the Steeler’s high-flying arial attack.

The first matchup of these teams had the Steelers ahead 9-7 midway through the third quarter when the wheels fell off as Ben threw two pick-sixes and the defense gave up a 90 yard TD run to Leonard Fournette.  That was a fluke. It won’t happen again.

In that game, Blake Bortles completed eight (8)….(yes EIGHT) passes for 95 yards.  This IS likely to happen again if you consider Bortles’ capabilities as being embodied by his performance against the Bills in the Jags’ 10-3 victory (off a walk-off single to win the game in the 9th inning).

The strength of the Jacksonville is its pass defense prowess.  They sport the cream of the crop in their cornerback corps.  And the Jags are second only to the Steelers in sacks with 55.  The linebackers and defensive backs are super-fast. But this defense can be stymied when facing a creative offensive plan like the ones the 49ers and Steelers employed.

The Jag’s run defense is improved over last season, but it hasn’t faced a truly prolific run attack. They did hold a number of formidable runners in check with Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy getting 75 yards on 19 carries (2.6 average), Derrick Henry of the Titans 51 yards on 28 carries (1.8 average) and SF’s Carlos Hyde 54 yards on 21 carries (2.6 average).

Keys to the Game

  • Steelers using a balanced offense
  • Load the box (force Bortles to pass)
  • Win the turnover battle
  • Don’t give up the big (50 yard) TD play
  • Score TDs in the Red Zone (0-3 last game)
  • Weather < 30 degrees (would be helpful)

Prediction

Nick:  Steelers 24 – Jaguars 13

Tom:  Steelers 31 – Jaguars 7 (hey, it doesn’t really matter, does it?)

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