The 10-6 Jacksonville Jaguars will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the 13-3 Steelers this Sunday in the AFC division playoff. These teams took different paths to get this far. Pittsburgh clinched the bye in week 16 with a big win over the Houston Texans. This has given Antonio Brown an extra week to heal from his calf injury and the star receiver is expected to play. Jacksonville had to earn a hard fought 10-3 victory over the Bills in the wild card game. These teams met back in week 3 and the Jaguars routed the Steelers 30-9 forcing Ben Roethlisberger into a career high of 5 interceptions including two that were returned for scores. Since that game, the Steelers have won 10 of their last 11 games playing well on both sides of the ball.
Blake Bortles ended up rushing for more yards last week than he threw for. It was enough as the Defense limited the Bills to just a field goal and shut them out in the second half. He completed 12 of 23 passes for just 87 yards 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. He also ran for a career high 88 yards. His favorite target was Dede Westbrook who had 5 catches for 48 yards. Leonard Fournette was second on the team in rushing with 57 yards. For the season the Jaguars offense ranked 8th in the league with 25.1 points and 10th with 358 yards per game. Defensively, they had 2 interceptions and 2 sacks last week against the Bills. Their defense was ranked 2nd this season with 15.1 points and ranked 2nd in yards allowed per game with 285.
Le’Veon Bell and Brown have both have had monster regular seasons. Brown led the league with 1,533 receiving yards and Bell was second with 1,946 yards from scrimmage trailing only Todd Gurley. Ben Roethlisberger had a solid year throwing for 4,251 yards, 28 touchdowns but also 14 interceptions. Brown suffered a calf injury on December 17th but is expected to play Sunday. The Steelers defense has played well all year ranking in the top 10 in several categories. They were 7th by allowing their opponents to score 19 points and were ranked 5th with their opponents gaining 266 yards per game.
The Steelers will have home field advantage for this game and are favored by a touchdown. The have gone a surprising 7-9 against the spread this season including just 3-5 at home. If Brown suits up it will be a huge boost to an already potent offense and they will have retribution on their minds from the bad loss in week 3. Jacksonville has gone 9-7 against the spread this year including 4-4 on the road. They have survived two important games by scoring just a combined 20 points against the Titans and Bills. It could be in the single digits in Pittsburgh Sunday night but the Faithful fans at Heinz Field will be more than ready.
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