Keys To A Jacksonville Upset At Pittsburgh

The Jags Look To Stun Pittsburgh As They Travel To Heinz Field Saturday

Photo: Jacksonville Jaguars

PITTSBURGH, PA — The Jaguars reside atop the AFC South. Yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars. A stout defense, consistent running game, and top five scoring offense has the rest of the division chasing Jacksonville.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be the toughest test thus far for the inconsistent Jaguars. Traveling for the third straight week (London, considered a home game), the Jags are the -7.5 underdogs against the 3-1 Steelers.

Last week the Jags were down 20-10 going into the fourth quarter against the New York Jets but came back and pushed the game to overtime. They eventually lost at Met Life Stadium. The Jags will have to play with that same ferocity they had in that fourth quarter last week to have any chance against Pittsburgh.

STOPPING LE’VEON BELL

Pittsburgh Steelers

The number one task for the Jags will be to shut down the best running back in the NFL, Le’veon Bell. Last week the Jets ran up and down the field against the Jags for 256 yards. If Jacksonville brings that type of effort Sunday, Bell will break the NFL record for rushing yards in a game.

Bell got off to a slow start this season, due to his holdout during training camp. Through the first three games, Bell averaged 17.3 carries for 60 yards. Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, he looked to be in mid-season form rushing for 144 yards.

Jacksonville also needs to key in Bell in the passing game. The All-Pro running back has more receptions than all the of the Jaguars receivers.

Stopping Bell is a difficult task for any defense, but slowing him down will be key the upset on Sunday.

BLANKETING ANTONIO BROWN

Pittsburgh Steelers

After four games Jacksonville has the number one ranked pass defense. They will be tested with arguably the best receiver in the league in Antonio Brown. Brown is second in the league in targets, receptions, and yards.

The Jags will have to be aware of Brown on every snap. Brown has twice as many receptions and yards than the next Pittsburgh receiver. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will try to find Bell or Brown on most third downs.

If Jacksonville wants to pull the upset, a mix of double coverage on Brown and rolling zone coverage towards the All-Pro receiver is needed.

ATTACKING ROETHLISBERGER

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is having a mediocre year. The Pittsburgh offense has been average as a whole all season. He will look to correct the Steelers’ offensive woes against the Jags’ stout pass defense.

The Jaguars lead the NFL in sacks with 18 in four weeks. Applying pressure to Roethlisberger will be critical to a Jacksonville upset. Big Ben historically has taken a lot of sacks as he extends plays with his legs.

Pittsburgh has only 79 first downs this season, converting 36.5 percent of their third downs. Jacksonville must get off the field by attacking Roethlisberger in obvious passing situations.

MOVE THOSE CHAINS

Every time the Jags earn a first down at EverBank Field, the home crowd shouts “move those chains, move those chains, move those chains…” On third down this season, Jacksonville hasn’t moved those chains very well. Converting only 30.8 percent of their third downs, the Jags have to be more consistent on offense.

The Steelers have a very stout passing defense of their own, ranked second in passing defense, total defense, and third in points per game. The Jags will have to gain first downs by any means necessary to keep drives alive and their defense fresh.

FOURNETTE AND FOURNETTE

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville quarterback Black Bortles is a bottom-tier signal caller at best. Jags rookie running back Leonard Fournette is the best player on offense. Fournette has to be involved in every part of the game plan Sunday.

The Jaguars take their second-ranked rushing attack to Heinz Field as Pittsburgh gives up 113 yards per game this season. The rookie running back is seventh in the league in rushing; this will have to be a 30 plus carry game for Fournette.

Jacksonville’s top receiver Allen Robinson is lost for the season, and Marquise Lee is questionable with a rib injury. Lacking playmakers going to Heinz Field, Fournette will have to show why the Jaguars picked him tenth overall in 2017 NFL Draft.

PREDICTION

Jacksonville keeps it close and limits mistakes from Bortles. The Jags have the top pass defense in the NFL but dead last in run defense. The defense will rise to the occasion, contain the Steelers Offense and hold in the red zone.

Jacksonville 21 – Pittsburgh 19