The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to renew an old rivalry Sunday as they return home to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming off a hard-fought road victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers will look to keep the ball rolling against the 2-2 Jaguars. With the opportunity to collect another win over an AFC foe, here are some numbers that are worth keeping an eye on.
The Steelers are 13-2 when running back Le’Veon Bell rushes for 100 yards. The Jaguars currently have the NFL’s worst run defense, allowing an average of 165.5 rushing yards per game meaning that the Steelers could call upon Bell often. Letting the running back dictate the game has worked flawlessly so far as the Steelers are 14-0 when Bell receives 23 carries or more.
Sunday’s game will be decided in the trenches as two of the NFL’s top units are set to go head to head. The Jaguars have allowed just three sacks this season, the fewest in the NFL while the Steelers have gotten to the quarterback 15 times this season, the second highest total in the NFL. A victory Sunday could be much easier if the Steelers’ defense can penetrate the Jaguars’ immovable offensive line. Look for the likes of the red-hot Cameron Heyward and the rest of the defensive front seven to continue making the pocket an uncomfortable place for opposing quarterbacks.
The Steelers will look to extend the longest active takeaway streak in the NFL Sunday against the Jaguars. Dating back to last season, the Steelers have recorded a takeaway in 14 straight games, recording a 10-4 record during this span. Continuing this streak a week longer could hold important significance against Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. For his career, Bortles is 8-7 when he does not throw an interception, compared to 5-30 when he does throw an interception.
Bortles is an unimpressive 3-21 on the road during his career. And while the quarterback’s road record may not be the easiest sight to look at, do not be fooled by this figure. Bortles has statistically been better on the road rather than at home during his career. Bortles brings a career 39-23 touchdown to interception ratio on the road along with an 82.8 passer rating, which are slightly better than his home splits of 31 interceptions and 76.8 passer rating.
The Jaguars have only converted 30.8-percent of their third down attempts this season, good enough for 29th in the NFL. This should look like blood in the water for a Steelers defense that ranks fifth in the NFL on third down, allowing just 32.7-percent of their opponent’s third down attempts to be converted. Forcing the Jaguars offense off the field is an easy way to keep a struggling Jaguars defense on the field which could play hand in hand with Bell’s rushing success.