A lot of fans are constantly pointing back to the Week 5 game between the Steelers and Jaguars, assuming the playoff matchup will be more of the same. However, when you look at it objectively, there will be a lot different when you compare the 30-9 loss in Week 5, to the upcoming Divisional Round game in the AFC Playoffs.
Here are just a few differences between the October meeting, and the one about to ensue at Heinz Field on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET.
- Marcus Gilbert is in the lineup
Gilbert has missed a lot of time this season, for a variety of reasons, but he missed the Week 5 game with the hamstring injury which plagued him early on in the season. This isn’t a knock on Chris Hubbard, who did more than enough his Gilbert’s stead, but Gilbert is considered one of the best right tackles in the NFL for a reason. Gilbert’s presence will be strong both in the running game, but also in his efforts to neutralize the Jaguars’ pass rush.
- The Weather
When the Jaguars invaded Pittsburgh on October 8th, it was a picturesque day, from a weather standpoint. A perfect fall day in Western Pennsylvania for football with highs in the 70s, but on Sunday January 14th, it won’t be so ideal.
High temperatures on game day won’t reach the 20-degree mark, and wind chills will make it feel even colder. The Jaguars are used to their conditions in Florida, and although most will suggest this won’t play a role in the outcome, teams from Florida coming up north in winter conditions can’t be easy. Plain and simple, the Steelers are used to this, while the Jaguars only have to deal with it on occasion.
- Evolution of the Steelers’ offense
Fans are quick to point out Ben Roethlisberger’s 5 interceptions, and what a black eye his Week 5 performance was on his overall season. However, in the second half of the season the Steelers offense has been a different beast. In the team’s first 8 games, they averaged 20.8 points-per-game, never once eclipsing the 30-point mark. In the second half of the season, the offense tallied 29.8 points-per-game, and was never held below 20-points throughout all eight games. To suggest the Steelers offense is the same offense which was on the field in Week 5 is just downright wrong.
As a whole, Mike Tomlin hit the nail on the head when he talked about how the Steelers have evolved since their first meeting, something the Jaguars could also say about their own game. However, when these two teams meet up on Sunday, you can throw out the Week 5 meeting as all bets are off in this win-or-go-home playoff game in Pittsburgh, PA.