Just days away from a rematch with Jacksonville, the Steelers will look to overcome the 30-9 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Jaguars on October 8. Pittsburgh will obviously be looking for a much different result than the last meeting of these two teams. The Jacksonville offense ran the ball effectively against an always strong Pittsburgh defense, but the offense wasn’t the only the only effective scoring unit on the field for the Jaguars.
Jacksonville’s defense got in on the scoring mood as well by scoring on two of the five interceptions they forced Ben Roethlisberger to throw in the previous matchup. Linebacker Telvin Smith and Safety Barry Church were both successful in completing pick-sixes against the veteran quarterback, adding two to the total of 13 interceptions that the Jaguars made this season. The Jaguar defense not only forced Roethlisberger to throw five interceptions, a career high for the quarterback but kept him to 33 completions on 55 attempts and 312 yards.
The best CB duo in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/Ik6HmtAdgH
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 9, 2018
A top ten defense overall in 2017, Jacksonville has a defense comparable to Pittsburgh’s own defense by placing just three spots behind the Steeler defense. With the game being at Heinz Field, the Steelers do hold the home-field advantage with not only playing the game at home but also with the impending winter storm that looks to sweep across the area prior to Sunday’s game. Cold and snow are two factors that the Jaguars do not have regular experience in. Jacksonville is hoping that they can embarrass the offense as much as they did earlier this season.
An advantage that Pittsburgh has against the Jaguar defense is their strong running back in Le’Veon Bell and Roethlisberger’s chemistry with receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Bell has accounted for nine touchdowns on 321 rushing attempts and totaling 1291 yards. Brown has 101 receptions from 162 targets, gaining 1533 yards and scoring nine touchdowns and is set to play on Sunday after suffering a calf injury on December 17. Smith-Schuster accounts for 58 receptions from 89 targets, gaining 917 yards and scoring seven touchdowns.
The Steeler offense has become more well-rounded and potent since the last time Jacksonville came to town. With having a bye week last week, Pittsburgh had the extra time to rest up and prepare for Sunday’s game. If the wind and snow are a factor in Sunday’s game, having Bell to rely on will prove beneficial for the Steelers. The only question that needs to be answered is: will Pittsburgh’s offense overcome block out what happened the last time these two teams played each other, or will they experience the same outcome as last time?