The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars will face off at 1 p.m. ET at Heinz Field in Week 5 NFL action Sunday. When looking at the matchup on paper, there are plenty of reasons for Steelers fans to be optimistic; however, there are some key matchups which can ultimately decide which team leaves Week 5 victorious.
To make this game day article an easy read, I broke down this game into two key matchups. One of the offensive side of the ball, and one on the defensive side of the football.
Time to get to the matchups, and if you are more of a listener, you can hear more about each of these matchups, as well as my prediction, in the podcast below!
Offensive Matchup: Le’Veon Bell vs. Myles Jack and the Jaguars LBs
Jack leads the Jaguars in tackles, but is also the marquee name on the NFL’s worst run defense. In Week 4 the Jaguars defense surrendered a 70+ yard run, and even if you take that run away from their statistics, they still have the worst run defense in the league.
If the Steelers can get the ground game going early, it will prevent the Jaguars defense, who does lead the league in sacks, from pinning their ears back and getting after the quarterback on obvious passing situations.
Bell seems to just be heating up, and a large part of that would be the Steelers’ offensive line paving the way for Bell. If the blockers can get to the second level, like they did in Week 4, Bell could feast on the porous Jacksonville rush defense.
Defensive Matchup: Ryan Shazier vs. Leonard Fornette
The Jaguars might not stop the run well, but they run the ball well between Leonard Fornette and Chris Ivory. Their violent running game will be countered by the Steelers’ most prolific defender in Ryan Shazier.
Shazier has turned into an all-or-nothing style player, and you can see the difference between the two in Weeks 3 and 4. In Week 3, Shazier made plays, but took bad angles and didn’t wrap up well in run support. The result was the Steelers getting gashed in the run game to the tune of 222 yards. In Week 4, Shazier was all over the field, reading his keys well and making sound tackles. Shazier leads the Steelers in tackles, and if he is on will force the Jaguars into putting the football into Blake Bortles hands to win the game.
If the Pittsburgh defense does that, it will be a recipe for success for the home team in Week 5.