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PFF’s breakdown of Steelers vs. Jaguars hinges on pass protection and superstar matchups

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars will do battle on Sunday in the AFC Divisional Round game at Heinz Field. Pro Football Focus gives their take on the upcoming game.

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NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars were acquainted with one another in Week 5 at Heinz Field, when the visiting team walked out of the Steel City with a 30-9 win, and the two AFC foes will get reacquainted with each other in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs on Sunday, again at Heinz Field.

There is a lot to break down in this matchup, but Pro Football Focus (PFF) does a tremendous job with their analysis and overall work to provide fans with the most knowledge as humanly possible. Some might hate the way PFF grades players, but you can’t ignore the amount of work which is put into their product.

Which matchups does PFF see as the most intriguing? Which will ultimately result in a win or loss for the Steelers? Here is their analysis:


QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Jaguars defensive line – Roethlisberger gets his wish of facing the Jacksonville defense that intercepted him five times in Week 5. When under pressure, the Steelers’ quarterback threw three interceptions and compiled an 8.9 passer rating under pressure in the previous matchup. He had a 74.7 passer rating under pressureagainst everyone else this season. The Jaguars defensive line was responsible for 21 of the team’s 22 total pressures in Week 5, including nine pressures from Calais Campbell alone. When Roethlisberger was pressured in that game, nine of his 12 on-target attempts were between the numbers, but four of his interceptions also came on passes between the numbers. With the Jaguars’ dangerous cornerbacks, he’ll need to be sharper over the middle in this one if the Steelers are to continue their playoff journey.

  • WR Antonio Brown vs. CB Jalen Ramsey

Even after missing the final two games of the season, Brown earned the highest grade for a wide receiver (93.7 overall) and first team PFF All-Pro honors. His 19 targets in the Week 5 matchup were the most he saw since Week 9 of 2015, but those targets did lead to a career-high three interceptions thrown when he was the targeted receiver. Jalen Ramsey got one of those interceptions on a contested target. During the regular season, Brown had a passer rating of 119.3 when targeted on his 41 contested targets against any defender other than Ramsey. Ramsey has only allowed a passer rating of 14.2 when contesting passes the entire regular season. At 94.0 overall, Ramsey was and is the highest-graded cornerback that Brown has faced this season.

  • RB Le’Veon Bell vs. LB Telvin Smith

Bell was certainly given many opportunities in Week 5, as his 54 snaps in route was the highest total by a running back in any game this season. He got 25 touches overall, but he wasn’t efficient with his workload. He had his second-lowest yards per rush and third-lowest yards per catch totals of the season against the Jaguars. Smith is the league leader in run-defense grade among linebackers (94.0), but he struggled in coverage, as he missed a league-leading 12 tackles in the passing game, and he allowed 392 yards after the catch, the fourth-most at the position. This could be an area Bell could have the advantage in, as he had 17 missed tackles forced after the catch, eighth-most in the league by a running back.