Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers Tips | Sunday 14th January 2018
NFL boffin Tom Selwyn analyses the weekend’s NFL divisional play-off matches, continuing on Sunday from Pittsburgh.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers | Sunday 14th January 2018, 18:05 | Sky Sports
Of all the lines this week, this one is the strangest to me. Pittsburgh clearly has the better offense, but are they really deserving of a seven-point line?
Jacksonville’s defence could win this game by themselves as evidenced by the 30-9 win they had over the Steelers (also in Pittsburgh) earlier on in the season, in which they forced Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in to five INTs.
I highly doubt that Roethlisberger will be throwing five picks again, but it’s proof that the Jaguars can make life very difficult for this vaunted Steeler offense. Throw in the fact that nobody is really sure that star WR Antonio Brown will be 100% on his return from injury and siding with Jacksonville on the seven-point handicap is very appealing indeed.
People will point to Jacksonville’s QB Blake Bortles as the most obvious reason as to why that’s a crazy idea, but Bortles had 95 (!) yards passing in their win over the Steelers.
The Jaguars know Bortles is limited and will lean on the run game and their defence. They cannot get behind on the scoreboard early though as putting the game on Bortles’ shoulders is a recipe for disaster.
I don’t expect a similar result to the last game, with Pittsburgh only scoring nine points, but I think this game will be a lot closer than the line suggests. It all rests on their defence stifling Pittsburgh for the second time and despite it being no easy feat, I’m sure they’re relishing the challenge.
Player to Watch – Jacksonville
Leonard Fournette – RB: Fournette has not been as good in recent weeks as he was earlier in the season, having been slowed by an injury. He put up 181 yards against Pittsburgh last time out and Jacksonville will need a similar output from him this time.
Player to Watch – Pittsburgh
JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR: Out of the Steelers WRs, it’s Smith-Schuster who will likely spend most of his time in the slot, away from Jacksonville’s CBs A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. He must take advantage of the easier matchup.