Jaguars' stout defense playing big role in the playoffs

Ross Houston
January 12, 2018

The Jaguars are huge, physical, and have tremendous defensive backs.

There is at least one mistake the Steelers won't repeat in the rematch Sunday afternoon when the Jaguars visit Heinz Field for an AFC divisional round playoff game - they won't underuse All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell.

To help preview the Pittsburgh Steelers Divisional Round matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, we call on Jacksonville Jaguars writer Mia Kologranic.

For now, it will be Bortles trying to rebound from his 12-for-23 passing performance against the Bills as the third-seeded Jaguars attempt to upset the second-seeded Steelers and advance to the AFC title game. In his first, Bortles passed for only 87 yards in last week' 10-3 win over Buffalo. He didn't hesitate to question his relatively light workload during a 30-9 loss to Jacksonville on October 8. This might also be the most well-rounded Pittsburgh team during that span, which included no losing seasons for the Steelers and two trips to the Super Bowl.

Jacksonville will be looking to accomplish that same feat Sunday afternoon, since they already beat Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, 30-9, back in week five.

Pittsburgh will be gearing up to get revenge with the recent memory of that embarrassing regular season loss. In last meeting, registered a 28-yard pick-six; S Barry Church added a 51-yard pick-six and S Tashaun Gipson did not score, but grabbed two interceptions. It didn't take much for the Jaguars to have their best team in a decade after being perennial losers for the last 10 years. In 1947, the Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles finished with the same record at the end of the regular season. Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in that loss, which dropped Pittsburgh to 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS on the year. Over the last seven weeks of the season, Roethlisberger threw 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions while averaging 325.5 yards per game.

That talented cast, Marrone said, makes Roethlisberger even better. They've averaged the most points (31.3) and second-most yards (403) and passing yards (302) per game in the National Football League since Week 11. The Jaguars allowed just 85 yards and no points in the second half, showing again they may be the NFL's best defense.

After losing to Jacksonville for the first time in a decade, Pittsburgh gets a shot at retribution in the playoffs. Brown only player in National Football League history with five straight seasons with 100-plus receptions.

There are plenty of reasons for the Steelers to hand the ball to Bell early and often Sunday afternoon. The only player who has more yards from scrimmage in that span than Bell (855) is the Rams' (933).

"We're going to play [the Patriots] again".

With Brown likely limited by his injury, establishing the run will be key for the Steelers Sunday. They are in the Playoffs because they won all the right games at the end of the season and they are going to continue this streak with a victory over the Wentzless Eagles.

The biggest weak point of either team is Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. Jacksonville lost both games. Then, the players were back on the field for a Monday practice; Tuesday was the normal off day, and then the schedule has the team on the field on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday leading up to the game, which is when the game plan for the Jaguars will be installed and practiced.

As has been the case with Steelers teams over the last few seasons, this team goes as the offense goes. Defensively, the Steelers are yielding 19.2 points and 306.9 total yards (201.1 in passing and 105.8 in rushing) per game.

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