Juggernaut Jax Enters The Pitt
And then Anthony Smith opened up his mouth and New England went after him… to the tune of a 34-13 victory. And now, this week, an opponent that is nearly as tough as the Patriots comes to Pittsburgh… the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Vegas lines opened the Steelers at -4.5 but the majority of lines have moved a point in favor of the Jags since.
Both teams are presently sitting with 9-4 records, but two of Jacksonville’s losses have come against the Indianapolis Colts, including a December 2nd 28-25 defeat in which the Jags had over a hundred more yards on the ground and substantially led in time of possession.
Pittsburgh has had an interesting season in spite of their impressive record, losing to mediocre clubs in Arizona, Denver, and the NY Jets before coming up short with Smith’s pre-game win guarantee. It is also interesting that, since the beginning of the 2005 season, the Jags are 29-16 during the regular season to date, while the Steelers are 28-17.
The Jaguars have an identical ATS record at 9-4, while the Steelers have not been as kind to bettors at 7-6.
The total opened up at 39, which must have been considered high when one takes into account the defensive strength of these two teams. Jax is ranked fifth in the league in rush yards allowed and sixth in points allowed, while Pitt has the top-ranked defense. Since opening, the total has dropped a couple of points.
The Steelers will look to exploit the poor pass defense of Jacksonville, which ranks 27th in the league. The best matchup here pits Pro Bowl receiver Hines Ward against fellow AFC Pro Bowler Rashean Mathis at cornerback. QB Ben Roethlisberger has shaken off the critics and the nightmare of last season to have his career year to date, with already eight touchdown passes past his previous high of 18 in a season.
David Gerrard, QB of the Jags, is intending on continuing his impressive protection of the football, as he has thrown only one interception this season in his ten games played. But the real strength of the offensive Jaguars continues to be the two-headed monster rushing attack of Fred Taylor and Maurice-Jones Drew, who have combined for almost 1600 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Look for the Jaguars to come out and play a short, mistake-free passing game to start off, as the Steelers undoubtedly will be expecting the rush attack defensively in the initial half. Gerrard cannot have any turnovers, as trying to overcome points given up as a result will be extremely hard against the D.
Jax coach Jack Del Rio and his team will be coming into Pittsburgh looking to make a statement that the Steelers should be as worried about them as they may have been against the Patriots. The teams have met four times prior since 2002, with two of the games decided by less than three points and one other going into overtime. This game will be close… but look for the Jaguars to have the Steelers stung for a second straight week.
PICK THE JAGS