Jacksonville (11-6) at Pittsburgh (13-3)
When: Sunday, January 14th 2018
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 1:05 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: Pittsburgh -6/41.5
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The franchise with the most playoff wins in postseason history, will battle a team that is coming off their first postseason victory in 10 years as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. The Steelers are giants compared to the Jaguars, but Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sure knows who this defensive juggernaut is. Back in Week 5, the Jaguars came up to Heinz Field and tormented Big Ben into possibly his worst professional game in a 30-9 thrashing. Roethlisberger questioned whether he still had “it” after throwing a career-worst five interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns – against Jacksonville in October. But the future Hall-of Famer led the Steelers to eight consecutive wins after that and 10 of 11 overall to clinch the No. 2 seed in the conference. The third-seeded Jaguars are coming off an ugly 10-3 win at home over Buffalo in last week’s Wild Card round. Jalen Ramsey picked off Roethlisberger in the first meeting and clinched last week’s win with an interception. Jacksonville led the NFL with seven defensive touchdowns this season.
The biggest worry on this Jacksonville team is with the most important position in all of sports – the quarterback. Fourth-year QB Blake Bortles was intercepted five times in the final two regular-season games and threw for only 87 yards in last weekend’s win over Buffalo. Bortles did rush for 88 yards last week but the Jaguars, but that is not the kind of offense it will take for the Jaguars to upset Pittsburgh this week. They will need to get running back Leonard Fournette more into the game plan. He ran for a season-high 181 yards including a 90-yard touchdown in the first meeting against Pittsburgh. Calais Campbell leads a pass rush that recorded 55 sacks – second in the league to Pittsburgh – while the Jaguars topped the league in passing defense (169.9 yards per game) and ranked No. 2 overall with an average of 16.8 points allowed. Ramsey and A.J. Bouye combined for 10 of the team’s 21 interceptions, also No. 2 in the league.
Roethlisberger finished the season with two or more touchdown passes in his last seven games, connecting on 18 in that span versus five interceptions. Superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, sidelined since injuring a calf in Week 15 against the Patriots, practice fully Wednesday and was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Year after catching 101 passes for a league-high 1,533 yards, including 10 for 157 versus the Jaguars. Rookie wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster came on strong over the second half of the season while Le’Veon Bell always provides a dual threat out of the backfield, finishing third in the league in rushing (1,291) yards to go with a career-best 85 catches. The Steelers led the league with 56 sacks, but defensive end Stephon Tuitt and cornerback Artie Burns each were hurt in Wednesday’s practice and their availability will be updated on Friday.
If Bortles had trouble last week in the 70-degree Florida wind, what is going to happen on Sunday? I’ll tell you. The Steelers defense will be rushing him all day long and force him to make some huge mistakes, setting up easy field position for Big Ben and company to simply annihilate Jacksonville and move onto the AFC Championship Game.
Pick: Steelers -7
- Jaguars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Jaguars are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a ATS loss.
- Jaguars are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 vs. AFC.
- Jaguars are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game.
- Jaguars are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.
- Jaguars are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff games.
- Jaguars are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 playoff road games.
- Jaguars are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.
- Steelers are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 Divisional Playoffs games.
- Steelers are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 playoff home games.
- Steelers are 13-4-3 ATS in their last 20 games in January.
- Steelers are 11-5-2 ATS in their last 18 playoff games.
- Steelers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. AFC.
- Steelers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
- Steelers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Steelers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games.
- Steelers are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Steelers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on grass.
- Over is 3-0-1 in Jaguars last 4 Divisional Playoffs games.
- Over is 4-0 in Jaguars last 4 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 4-0 in Jaguars last 4 games in January.
- Under is 6-0 in Jaguars last 6 games following a ATS loss.
- Under is 8-1 in Jaguars last 9 vs. AFC.
- Over is 8-2 in Jaguars last 10 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.
- Over is 3-1-1 in Jaguars last 5 playoff road games.
- Under is 6-2 in Jaguars last 8 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Over is 5-2 in Jaguars last 7 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game.
- Over is 4-0 in Steelers last 4 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game.
- Over is 5-1 in Steelers last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 5-1 in Steelers last 6 home games.
- Over is 5-1 in Steelers last 6 games on grass.
- Under is 4-1-1 in Steelers last 6 playoff games.
- Over is 12-3-1 in Steelers last 16 playoff home games.
- Under is 4-1 in Steelers last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Over is 22-7-1 in Steelers last 30 games in January.
- Under is 20-7 in Steelers last 27 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
- Over is 5-2 in Steelers last 7 games overall.
- Under is 21-10 in Steelers last 31 vs. AFC.
- Road team is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 meetings.
- Underdog is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
- Jaguars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings in Pittsburgh.
- Jaguars are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 meetings.