Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET, Heinz Field, TV: CBS, Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (field reporter). The Jaguars don't look like AFC favorites right now, but they do look like a team with a good enough defense to win any game.
As has been the case with Steelers teams over the last few seasons, this team goes as the offense goes.
In their first meeting against the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell flat in a disappointing 30-9 loss. The Steelers lost the game, and moved to the #2 seed. "It's not like we're going to shut it down for a couple plays and they're going to pass the rest of the game". I'm going to give a slight edge to Thielen over Stefon Diggs, who has a touchdown in three straight games.
Stopping Gronkowski should be at the forefront of the Titans game plan this week. The victor of this game will go to the AFC title game and battle the victor of the Patriots and Titans. Thielen had one of his best games of the season against the Saints all the way back in Week 1, going for 157 yards on nine receptions.
Bell proved to be a clutch playoff performer in his first postseason exposure a year ago, rushing for 167 and 170 yards against the Dolphins and Chiefs. The fact is their chances of winning this game hinge nearly completely on the way Bortles plays.
Needless to say, if you believe in déjà vu, you should consider the two seasons, and not the two Jaguars games, as the parallels you want to compare. It's a little bit faster each game.
I know Brady hasn't been an elite fantasy producer over the second half of the season, but this is the playoffs and you have to think that Brady brings his A-game coming off the bye week. "So hopefully we can use that experience to my advantage". It will be hard for the Steelers to make a living running outside against the Jaguars' team speed on defense, so it's critical that DeCastro & Co. create lanes between the tackles. In the receiving end, Keelan Cole posted 715 yards and three touchdowns while Marqise lee added 702 yards and three touchdowns.
The 9-7 Bills are playing their first playoff game since 1999, ending the longest playoff drought in the National Football League (17 years) by winning three of their final four regular-season games. If he can be effective, it will be a big boost for a Steelers offense that relies heavily on their All-Pro receiver.
Looking ahead to the Steelers upcoming rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I'm getting the feeling of déjà vu.
A healthy core group of Steelers may not bode well for the Jags, no matter how strong their defense is. "I feel I was able to go through practice", Brown said Monday. The head coach of the Giants for 12 years, before being unceremoniously fired after the 2015 season, is the Jaguars' team president and has been universally praised for his contribution to the new culture in Jacksonville by Marrone and team owner Shad Khan. Quarterback Blake Bortles struggled and finished with 87 yards passing - though he did rush for 88 yards, including 20 on the Jaguars' game-winning drive in the third quarter. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette will also be asked to do more this weekend, as he ran for only 57 yards on 21 carries against Buffalo. He only had five passes that traveled at least that distance. Jalen Ramsey is more than capable of blanketing Brown. "I've even noticed how much he leads the team during practice". Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell only rushed for 47 yards against the Jaguars in Week 5. WR Antonio Brown led National Football League with 1,533 yards receiving and ranked fifth with 101 catches, becoming only player in National Football League history with at least 100 receptions in five consecutive seasons. He had four runs of 10 yards or more.
The Jaguars turned the ball over seven times in their past two games (losses at San Francisco and against Tennessee), including those five interceptions by Bortles.
Although Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in Week 5, he was sacked just twice. But Bell and Brown should step up this time, leaving Jags with surprising matchup challenge for the talented Jags secondary against up-and-coming TE Vance McDonald.
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OUR PICK: Steelers, 28-24.