Jaguars vs. Steelers: Picks, predictions and odds

Big Ben threw five interceptions and two were returned for touchdowns. Despite optimism from the Steelers for much of the week that he'd play, there is still a chance Brown will have to sit out Sunday's game. A lackluster offensive performance was mitigated by Jacksonville again showing up defensively. Pittsburgh no doubt will effort to get him heavily involved out of the game as a runner and a receiver to take the sting out of Jacksonville's strong front seven.

Are The Steelers Distracted?

The Jags' star-studded defense has held three of its last four opponents to 15 or fewer points, and they completely shut down the Buffalo Bills in a 10-3 wild-card round victory. Steelers are 9-1 all-time after getting first-round bye. The Steelers were still in the mix for home field advantage with the New England Patriots facing off against the New York Jets.

Brown suffered the calf injury early in the December 17 loss to New England and missed the two subsequent games. "Like I said, we collectively, everyone - it starts with me to [offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett to the assistant coaches to the players - we've got to do a better job". I think he's excited for each opportunity each week to go out there and get back on track and get back to playing the way he can play and the way everyone knows he can run. "I'm going out to play this one and give it everything I have".

The Steelers need to focus on the task at hand.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Calais Campbell have been the main factors on Jacksonville's terrorizing defense this season.

Jaguars' quarterback Blake Bortles has been the most scrutinized signal-caller in the National Football League this season. It also was Jaguars running back 's best. Blake Bortles (above, right) threw for a whopping 95 yards in that win, and Leonard Fournette racked up half of his 181 yards rushing on a 90-yard score with less than two minutes to play with the game already decided.

Roethlisberger was forced to throw 55 times in the first meeting, compared to just 14 attempts for Bortles.

Ultimately, the odds are good that Brown plays on Sunday.

The key to victory for the Jags is not playing from behind. Look for Bortles to attack the Steelers in the middle of the field where linebacker Ryan Shazier used to be. How will he fare at Heinz Field, infamous for its swirling winds? But that option year is guaranteed only for injury. He was also sacked twice. The Steelers will load the box and dare Jacksonville to pass. It was the inability of the Steelers defense to play gap control defense plugging their run fits with any consistency. In the end, he finished the game with eight tackles and an interception.

In Jacksonville's first home playoff game since 1999, the Jaguars' offense struggled, but produced a scoring drive late in the third quarter that was enough to put the team over the top.

He completed 12 of 23 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.

More of the same likely arrives this weekend. Why would Roethlisberger respond publicly, to the confusion at the end of the Patriots game, with this statement?

Basilio has been a Jaguars fan since the team came to Jacksonville, and even has a 1996 AFC wild card shirt as proof.

None of it seemed to bother Bortles, who has been sullied all season.

Fournette and Bell don't lose fumbles often.

The team that protects the ball better and the team that can capitalize on turnovers has an inside track to the AFC Championship.

  • Julie Sanders


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