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Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: What the experts are predicting in Divisional Round game
In the divisional round game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers, expert picks have gone as expected.
The Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs on Sunday. The Jaguars are coming off the win at home over the Buffalo Bills in the wild card round, while Pittsburgh received a first round bye and will be getting their first taste of the playoffs this season.
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It is the second time this season the Jaguars are traveling to Heinz Field to battle the Steelers. In the first game, back in week five, Jacksonville throttled Pittsburgh behind a dominate defensive performance and strong effort from the running game.
Do NFL experts think the Jaguars can pull off an encore performance in act two? Take a glance at what the experts are predicting on Sunday:
On ESPN.com, eight of the site’s ten NFL experts have currently made their choices. All eight have picked the Steelers to win. In fact, the two AFC divisional round games are the only two games with consensus predictions currently, with every expert planning for a Steelers vs. Patriots AFC championship game.
On cbssports.com, all eight experts have made their selections. The guys at CBS sports make picks straight up, as well as against the spread. In picks straight up, only one of the eight experts has picked the Jaguars to secure the road win in Pittsburgh (shoutout Will Brinson).
Against the spread of 7.5 in favor of the Steelers, five of the eight do see Jacksonville covering. That means that the five expect the Jaguars to keep the game within a touchdown when all is said and done.
On SI.com, Sports Illustrated’s ‘Monday Morning QB’ crew expects what most others do. It’s another unanimous sweep in Pittsburgh’s favor, with all six experts taking the Steelers.
On NFL.com, Elliot Harrison not only picks the winners of the games each week, but predicts the final scores as well. On Sunday, Harrison thinks the Steelers will beat the Jaguars by a score of 23-16. He also sees Pittsburgh using Le’Veon Bell heavily in the matchup:
The Steelers can ill-afford giving away 14 points again, especially against this defense. Jacksonville allows barely more than 14 points per game ( three last week, 16.8 in the regular season). Thus, expect this Divisional Round matchup to feature a whole lot of Le’Veon Bell. You can run on this Jacksonville front, although the numbers are skewed because nobody wanted to throw on them all year. While that fear-based play-calling might account for the healthy rushing-yardage total, it doesn’t account for the robust 4.3 yards per carry allowed. Bell should be featured in the passing game, where he is slick both slipping out of the backfield on a route and when Todd Haley aligns him out wide. Which means Myles Jack might not enjoy his coverage assignments this week. Jack saved a touchdown in the wild-card game by holding LeSean McCoy on a perfectly run rub route, the definition of a smart penalty.
It’s not surprising that the majority of predictions have called for a Steelers victory. The Jaguars are the second biggest underdog of the weekend, and coming off a woeful offensive effort against the Bills. While the picks have been overwhelming in Pittsburgh’s direction, most do expect the game to be close, so it’s not that there isn’t any confidence at all in Jacksonville in this one. But the Jaguars will have to do what the team has done all season and prove the doubters wrong.