Jon Ritchie’s Steelers Divisional Round Primer: Plenty of Le’Veon Bell helps lift Pittsburgh to a win over Jacksonville
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell watches from the sideline as he waits for the end of the AFC championship NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots won 36-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Jaguars at Steelers, 1:05 p.m., TV: CBS
Line: Steelers -7; Over/Under: 41
The Jacksonville Jaguars completely lambasted the Pittsburgh Steelers in October. It was 30-9. Not close. Big Ben threw five interceptions and two were returned for touchdowns. Roethlisberger claims he’s been hoping for the chance to face “Sacksonville” again to redeem himself. Bravo, Ben– because there is no way this game goes the way it did on October 8th. The Jags are a one-dimensional team with no chance to beat the angry, redemptive Steelers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh is headed to the AFC Championship again, and it’s gonna be fun to watch this Steelers slaughter.
Playmakers and game-changers
Ben Roethlisberger stunk against this secondary. Pittsburgh will aid his cause this time with great run/pass balance, but the Jaguars’ Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. Ben yearns to prove he can beat them.
Jacksonville RB Leonard Fournette is a beast when he’s right. Gigantic, fast, powerful.
Unfortunately for the Jags, Fournette is broken down at this point of the season– the rookie wall smacked him in the face hard and he’s looking pedestrian. He was a difference-maker on 10/8, but there will not be a repeat, bursty performance for the rookie.
How the Steelers win?
This Jaguars defense is susceptible to the power inside run game. Fast but not always stout. Le’Veon Bell will feast behind his powerful, pulling guards. He should get 25+ carries in this one.
How the Jaguars win?
Sacksonville’s D is second in the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed, takeaways, and sacks. Pretty awesome defense and they will make some plays. Not awesome enough to overcome the crappiness of Blake Bortles under center, though.
Ritchie’s pick: Steelers 24, Jaguars 13