Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Date and Time: Sunday, January 14, 2018, 1:05 p.m. ET
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Opening NFL Odds: Steelers -7, O/U 41
Steelers vs. Jaguars TV Coverage: CBS
The Steelers were always fancied for a first-round bye in the playoffs, but they badly needed it. Antonio Brown is reportedly 100 percent healthy, and it was great to give Le'Veon Bell a second consecutive week off after he touched the ball over 400 times in 15 games in the regular season.
Even though Pittsburgh found ways to play well without Brown down the stretch with JuJu Smith-Schuster and others shining brightly, there's no doubt what the formula is going to look like in this game. Ben Roethlisberger is going to target Brown and Bell on at least half of his passing attempts, and Bell will only get spelled on a play here or there by Stevan Ridley and will probably touch the ball at least 30 times in this game.
Though Jacksonville picked up its first win in the postseason since 2008, it's hard to say that things are right at the moment.
Sure, the Jags' defense stepped up and played a great game, but the Bills were bad and were really only in the playoffs on the back of the fact that the AFC was rather lame this season.
Offensively, Jacksonville was a wreck. Leonard Fournette averaged 2.7 yards per carry, and Blake Bortles ran for more yards (88) than he threw for (87), becoming just the third quarterback in NFL history to win a postseason game with more rushing yards than passing yards.
3.15 – The number of yards per carry Leonard Fournette has averaged since he was benched for "disciplinary reasons" in Weeks 7-9.
Fournette came out of the blocks this year with guns blazing, posting three 100+ yard games in his first six while averaging 4.58 yards per carry.
Since he was benched against the Colts and Bengals, Fournette has looked like a different runner. He's a plodder now, and he hasn't had a single run covering 30+ yards. Against Pittsburgh, he had two such runs in Week 5, including a 90-yarder that put the game firmly on ice in the fourth quarter.
In a related story, the Jaguars have averaged just 22.0 points per game since Fournette's return to the line in games that he has played. They averaged 26.0 points per game in their first five.
Jaguars vs. Steelers Free Picks
We just aren't sure about the Steelers. They only really won two games of note this year, and their wins against Minnesota (during the Sam Bradford days) and the Chiefs (when they were the horrible, mid-season Chiefs) came at timely points in the schedule.
Are the Jaguars any good either? Probably not. They made mincemeat out of Big Ben and the gang back in Week 5, but that was a perfect sandwich spot for Pittsburgh between road games against Baltimore and Kansas City.
In the end, we can't lay more than a touchdown with the Steelers. This game has the feel of a low-scoring slugfest, and two touchdowns by either team might end up getting the job done. We'll cautiously take the points at our favorite NFL sportsbook, but we aren't really in love with either side.
NFL ATS Pick: Jaguars +7 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Steelers 17, Jaguars 13