Sunday, October 5th, 1:00 p.m.
Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Kickoff temperature: 68 degrees, 0% chance of precipitation
Line: Steelers by 7
Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles will make his first home start on Sunday and although he turned the ball over twice last week against San Diego, the offense looked significantly better. Bortles will be hamstrung without Cecil Shorts and Marqise Lee, as both are ruled out, but they will have Ace Sanders back from suspension.
Stats: Jaguars offense- 31st Overall (24th passing, 30th rushing); 31st scoring- 14.5 ppg.
Jaguars defense- 32nd overall (32nd passing, 25th rushing); 32nd scoring- 38.0 ppg.
Steelers offense- 5th overall (8th passing, 5th rushing); 14th scoring- 24.3 ppg.
Steelers defense- T16th overall (17th passing, 15th rushing); 20th scoring- 24.8 ppg.
Keys To A Jaguars Victory
Win first down. Blake Bortles has shown himself capable of making plays on third downs, as long as the team isn’t too far behind the sticks. The Jaguars have struggled gaining positive yards and getting into positive situations in the running game.
Stop Le’Veon Bell. It’s easier said than done as Bell has become one of the very best running backs in the game and the Steelers have a great, balanced offense. Slowing down Bell not only means stopping the run but he’s also a very good receiver in the passing game. He’s a guy that must be accounted for.
Dominate special teams. This game looks like a mismatch on paper, but big plays in special teams can turn the tide. The Jaguars have Ace Sanders back and he’s going to have to have some big returns for the team to have a chance.
Stop Heath Miller. The Jaguars did a nice job of slowing down Antonio Gates last week and although Heath Miller isn’t quite as talented as Gates, he’s coming off a great game and you can bet that he’ll be a big part of the Steelers passing game.
Take some deep shots. The Jaguars found a way to get Allen Hurns free on a deep ball last week and then they didn’t take any more shots. They need to take at least one deep shot per quarter, even if it doesn’t work out.
What We’ll Be Saying On Monday
Blake Bortles improved. As tough as it is for fans to digest, this season isn’t about wins and losses, it’s about the improvement of the Jaguars young quarterback. If Blake Bortles gets better each week, that’s what’s really important.
The Jaguars gave up more big plays. With a quarterback as mobile as Ben Roethlisberger and a wide receiver as explosive as Antonio Brown, it’s likely that they hit on some deep passes which will open up the running game.
We now know who Markus Wheaton is. The Steelers may have discovered another wide receiver gem and the Jaguars and their fans will find out who he is on Sunday.
The running game improved, slightly. The Jaguars running game can’t get any worse, right? The return of right tackle Austin Pasztor should help in opening up some holes.
They put up a good fight. This is a big game for the Jaguars as they want to put on a better show in front of the home crowd. Gus’ team will play hard but the talent disparity is too much.