The Pittsburgh Steelers have started what many are calling their “Revenge Tour” throughout the AFC, and it starts with none other than the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars, who beat the Steelers 30-9 in Week 5, will make their triumphant return to Heinz Field this Sunday in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs.
Will it be a repeat performance of the regular season, or will the Steelers prove to be the better team? Only time will tell, but it is time for me to put on my prognosticator hat and give 7, very important number for the Steelers, early predictions for the upcoming playoff grudge match.
1. Ben Roethlisberger will play a very clean game
When fans think of the Week 5 loss to the Jaguars, they immediately think of Roethlisberger’s 5 interceptions. Roethlisberger has been tremendous in the second half of the season, and his biggest improvement has been between the ears. Roethlisberger will take what the defense gives him, and I expect a very clean game from No. 7.
2. The Steelers defense will hold the Jaguars to under 100-yards rushing
Some might read this and laugh, but if you look at past games when the Steelers have been gashed by the run, and play that team again, it is rare they get abused the same way. Just like the 2016 Dolphins, I expect the Steelers to put the clamps on the Jacksonville running game, and force Blake Bortles to beat them with his arm.
3. Pittsburgh will be the team with something to prove — a rarity
A home game for the Steelers between two division champions, and it seems odd the Steelers have something to prove, but they do. After the 30-9 beat down in Week 5, it is the Steelers who are talking revenge. The Jaguars are going to be walking directly into a hornet’s nest on Sunday.
4. Expect Le’Veon Bell to have over 150-yards in total offense
Le’Veon Bell is healthy for the postseason for the first time in his career, and don’t think for a second he doesn’t want to show to the world what he can do. Taking this a step further, if you recall, it was after Week 5 Bell criticized the team for not running the ball more vs. Jacksonville. In that game, Bell had 47 yards on 15 carries against a pretty sub-par rush defense. I think it is safe to say the Jaguars can expect a heavy dose of No. 26 Sunday.
5. Antonio Brown will be back, and he will be the same AB
The question isn’t, “Will Antonio Brown play?”, but, “Will Antonio Brown be Antonio Brown?” The answer to both these questions is a resounding “Yes.” Brown will play, and if the video he posted on social media is any indication, he will be back and better than ever.
6. JuJu Smith-Schuster will be the X-Factor this postseason
At this point, everyone knows to key on Brown, Bell and Ben, but who is often forgot in the mix is JuJu. JuJu Smith-Schuster, combined with Martavis Bryant and Brown make for a deadly trio at wide receiver for defenses to cover. No easy task, and Smith-Schuster has done nothing but toast fools the second half of the season, especially since Brown has been out due to injury. Smith-Schuster will be the offensive X-Factor for the rest of the postseason.
7. Dan Rooney and Ryan Shazier
Some laugh at motivators like the team’s late owner or injured teammate, but I buy-in to these motivational tactics. This Steelers team is an emotional team, and they take after their leader in that regard. So, Pittsburgh should the team feel like leaning on either of these two extrinsic motivators to help get them to the AFC Championship game, I say, “Why not?!”