National Football League 2018 Divisional Round Preview: (3) Jacksonville Jaguars at (2) Pittsburgh Steelers


The Jacksonville Jaguars have the second-best defense in the NFL. "I don't think that game has any bearing on what's going to happen in this game". Having nothing to lose against a team that faces plenty of pressure to dispose of an inferior opponent and could be looking past said opponent at the New England Patriots?

Why it's important: The Jaguars need to get more production from the receiver position after Hurns, Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole were shut out in last week's win over Buffalo (one target apiece). The further you go, it means a little bit more. Bravo, Ben- because there is no way this game goes the way it did on October 8th. It's possible that he merely is playing rhetorical games: There's a chance, after all, that the Steelers still could play another game at home this season. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions to the Jacksonville defense. Pittsburgh finished 6-2 at Heinz Field this season, with their road loss coming at Soldier Field to the Bears. It was also the game Fournette said he enjoyed his two best runs of the season - soaring over the goal line on a 2-yard touchdown, followed by a 90-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. RB Leonard Fournette led all rookies with 9 touchdowns rushing and ranked second with 1,040 yards rushing. Nobody feels the flow of the game, or how to attack a defense, better than Ben Roethlisberger.

As for the frigid weather expected game day, the only thing that matters for these fans is being there to cheer on the Jaguars. In those 11 wins, the Jaguars allowed 10 points or less in 9 of them. Cameron Hayward led the team with 12 sacks to anchor a Steelers defense that finished top-5 in total yards against per game with 306.9 yards of total offense against, and gave up just 19.2 points per game, good for 7th in the National Football League this season. He ran for just 47 yards on 15 carries in the first game and complained about his usage after the game, saying the coaching staff abandoned the run too early.

With Bortles appearing tentative throwing the ball last week but possessing the ability to contribute to the ground game, his legs could prove to be as big a factor as his arm - as long as he can avoid turnovers. He passed for 3,687 yards this season, giving him at least 3,500 yards passing in each of the last three years ... With Allen Robinson out for the season, and Allen Hurns in and out, Keelan Cole was the top receiver for the Jaguars.

"You have to treat every game like it could be your last because you never know when it is", Roethlisberger said this week when he met with reporters. This Steelers team has dropped one game by three points since that loss and even that was a Roethlisberger screw up. In the end, Le'Veon Bell is the key and the player of the game here. Byard intercepted two of Bortles' passes in the regular-season finale in Nashville. Jacksonville will have high hopes for next season after their playoff run this season. And while that was their only recent meeting, it should be noted that the Jags beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the 2007 playoffs.

Just like that, Fournette and the Jaguars arrived, making the Steelers believers in the process. But is that scenario in Jacksonville's best interests or exactly what Pittsburgh wants to see unfold?



Other news