2018 South Side Questions: Game Edition – Jaguars Better Than Their Record?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Game Edition – How much better are the Jaguars than their record really says?

So let’s lay it out on the line, since we’re about to get things underway in just a few hours. The Jaguars earned the title of the Steelers’ new nemesis for many last season when they defeated them twice in Pittsburgh, even eliminating them from the playoffs.

This year, however, they’re not even likely to make a return to the postseason, currently in sole possession of last place in their division with just a 3-6 record. While they did defeat the New England Patriots, their other victories have been against the New York Giants and the New York Jets. They have losses to everyone in their division, plus the Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys.

While their pass defense has been almost as good as last season (first in yards allowed, third in touchdowns, but just 25th in interceptions and 10th in overall points allowed), their run defense ranks 19th in yards, and their rushing offense, while missing Leonard Fournette for most of the year, is 26th.

The running game is supposed to be their strength, and they haven’t been able to get it going all year, so I think whether or not they can transcend their record against the Steelers depends entirely upon what Fournette can muster today, the first game all year he has played after also playing the week before.

Frankly, that’s the only meaningful difference that I think can realistically present itself today in comparison to what we’ve seen from the Jaguars throughout the year, aside from the unreliable metric of producing turnovers.

Of course, it ultimately doesn’t matter whether or not they’re a team as good as their record. Any team could win on any day, and that largely hinges on matchups, which the Jaguars tend to have in their favor against the Steelers.

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