Mike Tomlin is not going to entertain the notion that Sunday’s showdown in Jacksonville is a lure recreation for the Steelers, the NFL‘s final unbeaten group. Whereas some could already be looking forward to Pittsburgh’s Thanksgiving Day recreation with Baltimore, Tomlin’s group is dialed in on the Jaguars, a 1-8 outfit that has not one a recreation since defeating the Colts again in Week 1. The Jaguars have performed significantly better over the previous two weeks, nonetheless, shedding a two-point recreation to the Texans earlier than falling to the Packers on the street final Sunday, 24-20.
“We perceive what we’re going into in Jacksonville,” Tomlin mentioned earlier this week. “That is a bunch that is making an attempt to kick our butt. Knowledgeable group. A succesful group. And we’re getting ready with that understanding.”
Tomlin’s reward of the Jaguars didn’t have an effect on the oddsmakers’ determination to make his group a 10-point favourite for Sunday’s recreation, in keeping with William Hill Sportsbook. Six of our eight CBS Sports activities NFL specialists picked Pittsburgh to cowl the unfold, whereas every of our specialists have picked the Steelers to win whereas bettering to 10-0.
Earlier than we breakdown Sunday’s recreation, this is the right way to comply with the motion in actual time.
The right way to watch
When the Steelers have the ball
For a group that has but to lose a recreation, there’s been a variety of chatter in Pittsburgh this week concerning the Steelers’ struggles within the operating recreation. Regardless of having former Professional Bowl operating again James Conner at their disposal, the Steelers have rushed for lower than 50 yards as a group for 3 straight weeks. Count on Pittsburgh to attempt to set up its operating recreation early in opposition to Jacksonville’s twenty fourth ranked run protection.
Whereas they may look to ascertain the run, that does not imply the Steelers will hit the pause button on a passing recreation that has been one of many NFL’s greatest this season. Ben Roethlisberger is the reigning AFC Offensive Participant of the Week after throwing for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns in final Sunday’s 36-10 win over the Bengals. Pittsburgh’s receiving corps has been led by JuJu Smith-Schuster (54 catches, 516 yards, 5 touchdowns), rookie Chase Claypool (35 catches, 500 yards, seven touchdowns), Diontae Johnson (37 receptions, 426 yards, 4 touchdowns) and tight finish Eric Ebron (31 catches, 323 yards, three touchdowns).
The Steelers are all too accustomed to Jaguars linebacker Joe Schobert, who recorded two interceptions in opposition to Pittsburgh as a member of the Browns final season. The Jaguars’ protection additionally contains Professional Bowl defensive finish Josh Allen, veteran linebacker Myles Jack, and rookies Ok’Lavon Chaisson and DaVon Hamilton. Whereas this unit has potential, the Jaguars’ lack of expertise on protection has proven itself far too usually this season. They’ve tallied simply 9 sacks by means of 9 video games, a nasty omen heading into Sunday’s recreation. One space the place the Jaguars’ protection has carried out nicely is on third down, as they’re at the moment tenth within the league in crimson down effectivity.
When the Jaguars have the ball
Tomlin spoke at size concerning the respect he has for Jaguars rookie operating again James Robinson, who’s coming off of a 109-yard effort within the Jaguars’ 24-20 loss to the Packers final Sunday. Robinson, who went undrafted following a stellar faculty profession at Illinois State, is the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher by means of 9 video games.
“I can not say sufficient about him and the respect I’ve for what he has carried out,” Tomlin mentioned of Robinson, by way of Jim Wexell of Metal Metropolis Insider. “I learn one thing this morning that he has run for extra yards than any undrafted rookie within the historical past of our recreation so far in his rookie season. That claims all of it.”
The Jaguars’ offense will once more be led by rookie quarterback Jake Luton, a sixth-round decide who threw for 304 yards in his first profession begin. He was much less profitable in opposition to the Packers final Sunday, nonetheless, throwing for simply 169 yards whereas finishing simply over 50% of his passes. Not surprisingly, Luton’s favourite goal has been receiver DJ Chark, who recorded a season-high 146 receiving yards in opposition to the Texans in Week 9. Doubtless drawing the task of protecting Chark will likely be Pittsburgh cornerback Joe Haden, a three-time Professional Bowler who disrupted a number of of Joe Burrow’s cross makes an attempt final Sunday. If Chark attracts an excessive amount of consideration from Pittsburgh’s protection, Luton will doubtless flip to Keelan Cole, who caught Luton’s second profession landing cross in opposition to the Packers. Cole additionally scored on a 91-yard punt return.
Lutton, who was sacked 5 occasions throughout his first two begins, will face a Steelers protection that at the moment leads the NFL in sacks and compelled turnovers. Pittsburgh’s protection, led by defensive linemen Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, and defensive backs Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick, didn’t enable a single third down conversion throughout final week’s win over Cincinnati.
This recreation seems just like the one the Steelers took half in two weeks in the past. A double-digit street favourite, Pittsburgh began sluggish earlier than rallying to defeat a Cowboys group that was taking part in with out beginning quarterback Dak Prescott. As was the case then, anticipate the Steelers to win an unpleasant recreation in opposition to a Jacksonville group that has performed considerably higher soccer over the previous two weeks regardless of the absence of quarterback Gardner Minshew. Particularly, search for Pittsburgh’s protection to give you a number of turnovers that may shift the sport within the Steelers’ favor.
Rating: Steelers 24, Jaguars 13