Who: Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
What: AFC Divisional round playoff game
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Spread: Steelers (-7 1/2) U/O (41 points)
Why to watch:
The above makes it obvious. A chance to meet the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game is at stake, as the Jaguars get set to rematch the Steelers. As you probably know by now, Jacksonville shocked Pittsburgh 30-9 in week five intercepting QB Ben Roethlisberger five times in the game. The build up has included Roethlisberger saying he wants another crack at the Jaguars defense. Well, he’s about to get it. And the Jaguars, who smothered the Bills last week in their wildcard game, are more than ready to attempt to stifle Big Ben and the Steelers. If they do, it’s their first trip to the AFC Title Game since January of 2000, when the lost to the Tennessee Titans 33-14.
LeVeon Bell vs. Jaguars front seven
Despite all the talk about the Jaguars interceptions of Roethlisberger (two of them returned for TDs) in game one, equally impressive was they held Bell to just 93 total yards in October. If Roethlisberger’s top weapon, WR Antonio Brown, is limited with his calf injury, then it will be even more important that Pittsburgh gets Bell going early and often. For all of it’s overall monster accomplishments on defense in 2017 (Sacks, points allowed, takeaways, etc.) their run defense is 21st in yards allowed per game this season. They also are allowing 4.3 yards per rush, which is 26th. So, that’s the challenge up front. Can they stuff the Steelers nearly 1,300 yard rusher, again? If the Jags do, then they are in great shape to win this one.
We laid out the rushing numbers for Bell and the Steelers above. As for the Jaguars, RB Leonard Fournette had 181 yards on 27 carries in game one. Now, 90 of them game at the two minute warning on his electrifying breakaway touchdown run to clinch the win. But up until that time, he had only 91 yards on 26 carries or only 3.5 yards per carry.
And along those lines, here’s the recent disturbing trend for the Jags arguably best offensive weapon in Fournette: He had 21 carries for just 57 yards (2.7 avg.) last week against the Bills. The previous week at the Titans 19 attempts 69 yards (3.6 avg.) and in week 16 at San Francisco 18 carries 48 yards (2.7 avg). So, that’s three straight games without at least 70 yards on the ground and didn’t come close to four yards per tote in any of them. None of that is good news. The Jaguars must get something, themselves on the ground.
The Steelers run defense is pretty solid at 10th on average at 105.8 yards per game.
Talk all you want about QB Blake Bortles not being able to throw it very much or very well. And, he hasn’t. But, the Jaguars want to run and play defense to set up the offense. So, those numbers above must change.
Jaguars QB Bortles doesn’t mind you coming over to his place
The Jaguars are “riding high” early on in the season after an impressive win against New England. Everyone is obviously loose, because of the success in 2017, and now, back-to-back wins to start this year have given a sense of confidence to the young squad.
An embattled fifth year quarterback Blake Bortles is on a serious uptick in his own playing career. Off yet another surprising game Sunday, where he threw for 376 yards and four scores in the 31 – 20 victory, Bortles has plenty of reasons to smile.
And, unusually, he has plenty of reasons to welcome total strangers who come to his door
Yes. You read that correctly.
Bortles made mention earlier this week about fans and even teammates coming to his house, unannounced, to “say hello,” maybe catch up on some Netflix and of course, talk about the success of the Jaguars.
Okay, we made the Netflix part up.
Still, for an NFL quarterback to make mention that he’s welcoming people to come see him at his home to talk up the team he plays for is definitely unusual.
Bortles elaborated jokingly to the media Wednesday after the Jaguars practice in preparation for their first meeting this season with the Titans:
QB Blake Bortles and LB Telvin Smith address the media following practice. https://t.co/144T5Ng7EK
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 19, 2018
“It’s a football town that loves their Jaguars, especially when they are playing well. You know, I don’t have a problem having a conversation with somebody at the door.” When asked whether the fans relate to him, Bortles continued, “I feel as though I relate to the city of Jacksonville and the people who live here….I’ve lived in Florida my whole life. I feel comfortable here. I’ve made a lot of friends here. Made a lot of good relationships. Really enjoyed being here.”
It’s a very juicy twist to the Bortles soap opera from a year ago, when Jags fans were ready to not only come to his front door, but pack all of his belongings and put them on a moving truck to get him out of town.
Yet, Bortles played steady and at times great football in the 2017 season, including Jacksonville’s stunning AFC divisional playoff win at Pittsburgh last year. He also played well in the AFC Championship Game resulting in a narrow lost to New England.
So, it’s understandable that Bortles has got the Jaguars fans filling up on his bandwagon, yet again.
However, one thing is for sure, in the NFL everything is fleeting and directly related to what you’ve done, lately. And with the Titans having swept the Jaguars a year ago, Bortles and his teammates know they have to get that corrected starting with Sunday’s home game at TIAA Bank Field.
Otherwise, any strangers at the Bortles home, who are decked out in black and teal uninvited, may not be as friendly coming up the driveway next week.
Look who tops debut of our FFI “Power Rankings”
With the NFL and college football in full swing, we have had some surprises and shocks.
The whole state of Florida has gone unbeaten in the NFL.
UCF and USF look like they might be the best college teams in the state.
Blueblood FSU has landed flat on their faces, while Miami and Florida each suffered early season defeats.
A few weeks into the season, here are how things are shaping up with our “Power Rankings.”
5. Miami Hurricanes- The Canes came into the season with high expectations after having one of their best seasons in recent memory in 2017. The year didn’t start how they wanted it to with a severe loss to the LSU Tigers, who look like they might challenge the Tide for the SEC West crown. Miami bounced back with wins against Savanah State and Toledo. They will need QB Malik Rosier to improve if they want to win back to back Coastal titles.
4. Miami Dolphins- Surprise number one, so far, are the Dolphins. The Fins are 2-0 for the first time since 2013. The Dolphins have beat the Titans and Jets, so we can’t put them higher than fourth, but the start is impressive. Miami’s defense has been good, and contributions have come from all over, as we wrote Sunday. Ryan Tannehill has been doing a stable job at QB as well. The Dolphins get the 0-2 Raiders this week before two road games against Foe Tom Brady and the also surprising Bengals.
3. UCF Knights- The “National Champions” check in at the number three spot this week. The Knights have cruised to victory twice so far this season. QB Mckenzie Milton looked unstoppable against the UConn Huskies, but wasn’t at his best against South Carolina State. The Knights got unlucky with Hurricanes again this year and lost out on playing an ACC opponent (North Carolina) yet again. UCF will play FAU this week before finally getting to play a power five school in Pittsburgh at home.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Surprise again, with Tampa Bay at number two. Can you feel the “Fitzmagic?” The Bucs sure can, as the 14 year vet has shredded the Saints and Eagles. The Bucs are at 2-0 for the first time since 2010. Todd Monken has done wonders for the offense with the playcalling, as well. With a Monday night date with the Steelers can the Bus keep it going on National Television?
1. Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags claim the top spot this week coming in at 2-0 as well. The Jags are here partly to last season’s success, but not just that. The defense has done its job so far, but Blake Bortles was on fire vs. the Patriots. If Blake can continue to play the way he did against New England, then this team can become even more dangerous.
Report- Jaguars LT Cam Robinson has torn ACL
The news is not all good coming out of the Jaguars week two win over the power house Patriots.
Second-year left tackle Cam Robinson suffered a left knee injury in the first quarter and did not return to the game.
And as the NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported first Monday morning, it’s the worst possible news for him:
Source: #Jaguars LT Cam Robinson suffered a torn ACL. He had the MRI last night. Brutal loss for an up-and-coming player who is now out for the season.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2018
Tha former second-round pick out of Alabama was anchoring the left side of the line and protecting quarterback Blake Bortles’ blind-side. Jacksonville and coach Doug Marrone were particularly eager to have Robinson develop more with veteran left guard Andrew Norwell, whom the Jags gave a huge contract to in free agency.
Now, Robinson is headed for the IR.
Robinson started all 16 games a year ago, and the first two games this season.
Undrafted four year veteran Josh Wells, took over for Robinson and play the remainder of the game on Sunday.
With the diagnosis of the ACL and Robinson lost for the season, the Jaguars now have to decide whether Wells is the long-term solution, as he’s never started an NFL game before in his career.
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