Pregame: Revenge Tour – Part 1?

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

1pm ET @ TIAA Bank Field: Jacksonville, Florida.

Projected Score: Steelers: 28 / Jaguars 23

Game Lines: Steelers: (-5.5) – O/U: (46.5)

 

 

TV Broadcast:

Broadcast begins at 1pm on CBS, broadcast locally on KDKA-TV-2, with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo as commentators and Tracy Wolfson the sideline reporter. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Radio Broadcast:

Steelers Radio Network- Game coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET. Calling the game will be Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Tunch Ilkin (color analyst) and Craig Wolfley (sideline).

All fans in the Pittsburgh area can listen locally on WDVE 102.5 FM & WBGG 970 AM.

Injury Report:

OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee) – Out

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow) – Out

What to Watch For

1.Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben had very Jekyll and Hyde like performances last season. In Week 5 he went 33/55 for 312 yards with 0 TDs and 5 INTs but then in the Divisional Round of last year’s playoffs he went 37/58 for 469 yards with 5 TDs and only 1 INT. It will be critical for Ben to have a good day tomorrow with both he and James Conner facing a very tough challenge the offense will need to stay balanced. Should they be one dimensional it will become very difficult to win.

2. Turnovers

In both of last year’s matchups the Jaguars managed to capitalize on turnovers, two coming via a Tevin Smith defensive touchdown (1 INT & 1 Fumble). Jacksonville also managed to score points on two other occasions on offensive drives immediately following a turnover which brings the total to 24 points off turnovers in two matchups last season. The Jags will also get AJ Bouye back from injury which gives them a very good set of corners to match up against AB and JuJu. I would fully expect to see Vance McDonald to see a large uptick in targets.

3. Run Defense

Leonard Fournette was a juggernaut against the Steelers last season, without him at running back this offense lacks a mismatch. In the 2 games last year he totaled 290 yards on 53 carries (5.4 ypc) for 5 touchdowns. If the defense can stop Fournette and force Blake Bortles to throw the ball it should be makings of a very good day defensively. When forced to throw this season, Bortles has thrown 8 INTs and fumbled 6 times to only 12 touchdowns.

Betting Advice

Courtesy of BetFirm.com

I wouldn’t count out the Jaguars entirely in this game. However, there’s no reason to trust them at this point, even as home underdogs. Meanwhile, the Steelers look like a buzzsaw right now, and they’ve actually had a little extra time off after playing on Thursday last week. I’ll swallow the points and lean toward Pittsburgh to win by at least a touchdown.

If there’s a silver lining for the Jags, it’s that Leonard Fournette finally returned from injury last week. However, he was held in check against the Colts and his presence wasn’t enough to carry Jacksonville to a win. On the bright side, Blake Bortles actually had one of his better games of the season last week, throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over. But that performance was an aberration from the rest of the season.

Jacksonville’s biggest problem this year has been their turnovers. They are near the bottom of the league in giveaways with Bortles responsible for eight interceptions and two fumbles and the rest of the team losing seven fumbles. Even with Fournette at full strength, the Jaguars aren’t good enough offensively to overcome that many turnovers. They will have to play turnover-free football to have any chance against the Steelers.

On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars aren’t creating nearly as many takeaways as last year. To be fair, the Jacksonville defense is still top-10 in points allowed. However, they’ve been vulnerable at times this year, especially against the run. Without the takeaways not coming at the rate they did last year, the Jags can no longer overcome such an inconsistent offense and find ways to win games.

There’s also little chance of things getting any better this week against the Steelers. Running back James Conner figures to be the player to watch on Pittsburgh’s offense. A concussion limited him to 13 carries last week against Carolina. But he had four straight games with over 100 yards rushing prior to that.

More importantly, Conner is back at practice and should be ready to take advantage of Jacksonville’s speedy but undersized linebackers. Of course, Conner just sets up Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game. Roethlisberger has 13 touchdown passes to just two interceptions during the team’s five-game winning streak. It’s no coincidence that he and Conner are both putting up big numbers at the same time, as Pittsburgh’s offense can be next to impossible to defend at times.

Unless the 2017 version of the Jaguars shows up, this could be a long day for the home team. Again, the Steelers have won five in a row and all five have been by at least a touchdown. The Jaguars haven’t shown anything over the last month to indicate that this week will be any different. Even with Pittsburgh being the road favorite, this is a heavy lean toward the Steelers.

Pick: The Steelers (-5.5) – Over/Under: OVER (46.5)

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