There is little bothering me about what must be done to beat the visitors from the south. They can have that win back in October, championship football is played in January, and the kings of the AFC North know a lot more about that.
No matter what takes place on Sunday at Heinz Field, no matter the final score, who, what, where, when, why. A Steelers victory is what stands in the way of another re-match...yeah, let’s not look too far ahead.
What game week drama unfolded in the form of a question (and a good one) from somebody covering this AFC Divisional game to Le’Veon Bell and what lies ahead after the 2017 season ends.
Bell unleashed an answer that brought media gold in the form of holdouts and retirements. Do I take it seriously? No, I don’t.
Is Bell wrong for saying it? No, of course not. He’s allowed to show interest in how he earns a living. We all know in 2018 Bell will be by playing football. Under the CBA, the Steelers can franchise him a 2nd straight year, and will do so most likely. Don’t worry, making nearly $14 million for one year of work isn’t bad.
Of course, no week is complete without some sort of media mayhem when it comes to this year’s club. The Steelers seem to enjoy it, almost embrace, the antics and drama. They have played through a schedule that was filled with challenges and resistance. They won 13 of 16, certainly rarefied air in terms of wins in a 16-game schedule.
No matter what Le’Veon Bell’s job duties next season hold, there is still a football game to be played. One that will end the season for one, and extend the other’s for seven more days. I’m hard pressed to think of much to say other than the Steelers defense needs to be better than the Jaguars’ defense.
Much was made of the rookie season by Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette. Yes by the numbers he had his best day of his rookie NFL campaign by running big on the Steelers back in October. But looking inside the total he put up (180) that day, his last tote really inflated what was mostly a very pedestrian effort to that point.
Take away the long touchdown run at the end, his 6.5-yards per carry would be reduced to 3.3-yards per carry. Bottom line is we all know Ben Roethlisberger’s performance that day really stunk.
I’m a gambling man. I’d gamble that won’t happen again. There is no doubt the Jaguars defense brings some game and swagger with them. They are rugged, fast, play smart and cause turnovers and produce sacks. The real challenge on Sunday for the Steelers to win is play solid rush defense and make Blake Bortles throw the football.
You don’t turn the ball over, the Jags won’t score. Giving that offense a third of a field to play, they will find a way. I’m really banking on both perfect storms for the Steelers Sunday. They won’t turn the ball over, and will stop the Jacksonville running game. It’s the more likely scenario to play out over a repeat of the events of October 8th along the banks of the Ohio river.
As I prepare to clean off two ice riddled cars, I know that tomorrow’s game will be a good one. All four semi-finals are excellent. I say make good food, cozy up and enjoy the show knowing the Steelers should win a 27-23 game and move on the the AFC Title game.
Since 2014, John Phillips has had the honor of writing for BTSC. In addition to superior crime fighting skills, JP manages to live in Pittsburgh with his wife and two kids. Find him on Facebook, if you can.