The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their tenth game of the 2018 regular season Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars in what figures to be another interesting contest between the two teams. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do in the game to come away with their fourth road win of the 2018 season Sunday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Don’t bring Ereck flowers – It’s likely that Jaguars starting left tackle Josh Walker will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers due to injuries and that should result in Ereck Flowers making his first start in a Jacksonville uniform. Flowers, a former first-round draft pick of the New York Giants, has been a colossal bust to date and he’s played all of 15 snaps since being signed off the streets by the Jaguars well over a month ago. Flowers will face off quite a bit against Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree on Sunday in Jacksonville and this matchup is one the edge-rusher should be able to win throughout the afternoon. Flowers, by the way, was limited in practice some this past week with a knee injury that he suffered last Sunday. The Steelers defense needs to pressure quarterback Blake Bortles multiple times on Sunday as that could produce not only sacks, but turnovers as well.
Leonard Slimyards (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Slim-‘yérds) – After missing most of the first half of the regular season with a hamstring injury, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette returned to field last Sunday in his team’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts. While the former first-round draft pick didn’t have a great game rushing against the Colts, he did catch 5 passes in that contest for 56 yards and a touchdown. In the two games that Fournette played against the Steelers last season, he totaled 290 yards rushing and scored 5 touchdowns. Additionally, he caught 3 passes for another 13 yards. You might find it interesting to know that while Fournette did put up huge rushing stats in those two games last season against the Steelers that only 18 (34%) of his 53 total rushes were “successful runs” and 5 of those were of course his touchdowns. 90 of his 290 rushing yards also came on one run late in the first meeting between the two teams and he scored on that play. With a makeshift offensive line playing ahead of Fournette on Sunday, the Steelers defense should be expected to hold the Jaguars running back to slim yardage.
Multiple AB on AB crimes – Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye should play on Sunday after missing the last two games with a calf injury. He’s a fine cornerback for sure but even so, he’s no match for Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown as we witnessed in the two games played between these two teams last season. It’s unlikely that the Jaguars top cornerback Jalen Ramsey will travel with Brown on Sunday so look for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to attack Bouye with passes to Brown early and often in this Sunday contest. Brown, by the way, totaled 17 receptions for 289 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Jaguars last season.
Prohibir POOTOS – In the two games between the Steelers and Jaguars last season, Jacksonville scored 10 touchdowns and 2 field goals. 6 of those 10 touchdowns came off of Steelers turnovers and 3 were even scored by their defense. The Steelers offense barely escaped Cleveland with a tie earlier this season despite turning the football over 6 times. Sunday in Jacksonville the Steelers should win if they don’t turn the football over more than once. The Jaguars offense just isn’t very good right now and that unit will rely heavily on their defense to provided short field on Sunday. Points off of turnovers just can’t happen this time around. Bad Ben needs to be left in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Be a better chain gang – In the Steelers two loses to the Jaguars last season their offense ran a total of 155 plays. 60 of those plays included their offense needing 7 or more yards on second, third or fourth downs. Of the 23 plays on third or fourth downs in which 7 or more yards were needed, the Steelers offense converted 39.1% of the time. All 6 of Roethlisberger’s interceptions in those two games against the Jaguars last season came with the offense being behind the chains and he was also sacked 3 times. This year’s Jaguars defense is still very formidable despite that unit not having the sack and turnover ratio like they had last season and thus the Steelers offense must stay ahead of the chains as much more often in this meeting between the two teams.