The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering week 11 of the NFL season with the best record in the league at 9-0. Standing in their way of reaching 10-0 is the 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars. While the Jaguars record is poor, they always find a way to play Pittsburgh tight. For the Steelers to come out of Jacksonville with a victory, they will need to follow these keys to the game.
- Establish the Run
In the past three games for the Steelers, they have not been able to establish any semblance of a rushing attack. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been playing some of the best ball of his career, if Pittsburgh cannot get their rushing attack going this team will not be a serious threat come playoff time.
Jacksonville is ranked 23 against the run, so Pittsburgh has another opponent who they can run against. However, they need to run to their strengths. Running outside with James Conner has not worked, so this week should be designed power and counter runs to give Conner holes. If Pittsburgh can establish the run they have a great chance of winning, and developing some confidence for down the stretch.
- Do Not Look Ahead
This game could easily be a trap game for Pittsburgh. They have their rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, coming to town on Thanksgiving in a matchup which could very well decide the division. This week’s matchup is a game that the Steelers should steamroll the Jaguars, but as many know the Steelers do not often blow teams out. However, coach Mike Tomlin squashed any idea that this is a trap game in his weekly press conference saying, “We are not a Big Ten team playing a MAC opponent this week. Every time we step into a stadium, we are playing professionals, players and coaches, and we have a ridiculous level of respect for that.”
With that being said, if Pittsburgh can follow the lead of their head coach, they should be able to dominate the Jaguars on Sunday.
- Protect the Football
The Jaguars are very good at taking the football away from the Steelers. It does not matter if they have a great defense or not, it just seems like they can make game changing plays whenever they want against Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh starts turning the ball over a lot, this could be a long game.
However, if Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense can hold onto the football like they have been doing all season, it will be very difficult for the Jaguars to stop the Steelers from leaving Jacksonville victorious.
- Stay Healthy
If Pittsburgh loses someone to a major injury this game, and the season, can have a total change in course. Pittsburgh is more talented than the Jaguars in almost every positional group, but if an injury occurs the momentum could be flipped. For Pittsburgh to come away victorious they need to leave Jacksonville unscathed.
- Start Quick
Pittsburgh has really started a game out really well. Other than the Titans game and Browns game the Steelers have started games out very slowly. When Pittsburgh starts off slow, they seem to let teams hang around like the Cowboys game.
The Jaguars hung around last week against a very good Packers team. There is no reason why they can’t do the same this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh needs to jump out early and take control of the game if they want to convincingly beat this pesky Jaguars team.
My prediction: Steelers win in a dominant fashion