By: Jason Green
Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6 SU 9-8 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3 SU 7-9 ATS)
The Jaguars are one win away from the AFC title Game and they head back to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who they beat on the road earlier this season 30-9. However, they are big-time underdogs and while they only GAve up three points in their last Game they only scored 10. Jacksonville lost their last two Games of the regular season and the team is led by their defense, which ranks 2nd in the league in points against and their offense is legit ranking 5th in the league in ppg and 1st in rushing yards per Game.
At 5 dimes sportsbook the Steelers are a -7 point favorite with a total of 41.
I am pretty sure the Steelers would like to forget about their bad home loss to the Jaguars this season and they can get some revenge in this playoff Game. Ben Roethlisberger had the worst Game of his career in the loss to the Jags this season with five INT, but he has played well down the stretch this season and Pittsburgh is a balanced team that ranks 8th in the league in ppg and 7th in points allowed.
This season the Steelers are 6-2 at home and the Jaguars are 4-4 on the road.
The road team has covered the spread in the last Four Games between these teams.
The jaguars were at home in their last Game in the Wild Card round beating the Buffalo Bills 10-3 in a barnburner. Jax was out-GAined 263 yards to 230 yards, but they came up with two turnovers and did not commit one. The Jaguars passed for only 75 yards and were only 2/12 on 3rd down conversions and still got the W. Blake Bortles passed for 878 yards with one TD and no INT and he was sacked twice losing 12 yards. Where he shined was on the ground leading the team in scoring with 88 rushing yards averaging 8.8 yards per carry. While Leonard Fournette chimed in with 57 rushing yards he only averaged a paltry 2.7 yards per carry. He rushed for 181 yards in the earlier win over the Steelers and he may need to repeat that performance for the Jags to have a chance in this Game.
Bortles has to avoid the turnover in this Game and previous to the Buffalo Game he was picked off five times in two Games. He will be facing a Pittsburgh defense that ranks 5th against the pass and 10th against the run.
The Steelers had a bye in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and in their regular season finale they beat the Cleveland Browns 28-24. Pittsburgh had fewer overall yards, had the same amount of turnovers, and were worse on 3rd down conversions, but they ran the ball pretty well and kept Cleveland from scoring in the 4th quarter. Big Ben passed for 239 yards with a TD and an INT and it looks as if the injured Antonio Brown is set to make his return for this Game. Le’Veon Bell was inactive in the Browns win and he only had 41 rushing yards in the earlier season loss to the Jaguars.
The Jaguars are led by their D, which ranks 1st in the league in pass defense and 21st in run defense.
The Jaguars are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Games after an ATS loss, 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff Games, and in their last 4 Games after a straight up win they have an Over record of 4-0.
The Steelers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Games, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home Games, and in their last 6 home Games they have an Over record of 5-1.
Jason’s Pick: The Jags smoked the Steelers earlier this season in Pittsburgh, but do you really see Big Ben throwing five INT again? Not likely. Pittsburgh will exact revenge on Jacksonville in this Game playing well on both sides of the ball and they will win and cover advaNCing to the AFC title Game for the 2nd straight season.
Bettorsworld Pick – This is not a vintage Steelers team. There are plenty of red flags and cause for coNCern if your a Steelers fan or backer. For starters, teams that can RUN the ball and teams that have a stingy defense, tend to do well in January.
The Jags have BOTH of those, ranking #1 in the NFL in rushing compared to the Steelers #20 and the Jags rank 2nd in the NFL in points allowed.
Even more glaring is the yards per pont stat for the Steelers at home. Yards per point has always been one of Our favorite stats. Historically, solid playoff teams will generally have a defensive yards per point number of 17 or better and those numbers tend to be higher at home.
In the case of the Steelers, their season to date defensive yards per point number is 15.9. Only the Titans have a lower number (14.8) of the remaining playoff teams. But even more glaring is the Stellers defensive ypp number AT HOME, which is 13.3. That is downright TERRIBLE and just about unheard of.
INCidentally, much has been made about Bortles at QB for the Jags as he certainly has his haters. But let’s remind everyone that the Jags are #5 in the NFL in points scored and yes, they are ahead of the Steelers.
There’s been lots of talk about the Steelers going into New England next week to upset the Patriots. All of the prognosticators seem to be forgetting that the Steelers have to beat the Jags first, and that may not be as easy as most think. Jaguars +7