2017 Divisional Round Steelers Vs Jaguars – What To Watch For

It’s playoff time. Feels good, man. Will feel much better with a victory in a short while. The Pittsburgh Steelers are for the first time since 2010 hosting a Divisional Round game, and are only making their third appearance in the round since that time as well, taking on the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

As has been mentioned ad nauseum by now, the Jaguars are the only team during the regular season that really took it to the Steelers, accounting for one of their three losses, and the only one by greater than a single possession. Jacksonville is already the only non-divisional opponent to defeat the Steelers twice at home in a season and is hoping to repeat that effort.

It goes without saying that the biggest story of the game will be surrounding Antonio Brown and whether or not he plays, finally returning from a calf injury that wiped out the final two and a half games of the regular season. He is officially listed as Questionable to play, but reportedly has looked pretty good in practice.

If he does play, which I would think at the moment is more likely than not, then the question becomes how he will perform, and he will not have an easy time of it against Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Brown got his numbers in the first game, to no avail, but trying it again at less than 100 percent does not bode well for a repeat performance.

And so what we want to watch for is how the Steelers’ other receivers perform. We’ve already talked about it, but Martavis Bryant and especially JuJu Smith-Schuster have elevated their play since the first meeting, and it’s reasonable to assume they can have a bigger impact.

My personal key to the game is the offensive line and their ability to keep Ben Roethlisberger protected in the pocket. He faced consistent pressure no more frequently than in the first Jaguars meeting, and that had a big impact on his ugly performance.

As I talked about yesterday, the long pass is going to be something that will have to be in play, because it’s quite difficult to beat the Jaguars any other way. While their pass defense ranks high in virtually every pass defense metric, they have been susceptible to giving up the big play, and the Steelers are one of the top big-play offenses.

Defensively, it comes down to controlled chaos. The front seven in particular will play a crucial role in keeping things between the tackles, and that applies to both Blake Bortles and Leonard Fournette, as well as their other running backs.

That means Sean Spence and Vince Williams are going to be big. Having Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave getting banged up over the course of the week did not help very much, but they will have to make do with what personnel and health they have at their disposal.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • FanInExile

    And now, we have some wacko who threatened to kill Steelers players and fans?

  • LifeUhhFindsAWay

    And now Bell is guaranteeing a victory today on Twitter. As the Steelers turn …

  • Orlysteel

    And Bell is right, they’re the team that went into Heinz Feild in October and humiliated us, they are the reason we don’t have home field through out the playoffs, this time we ain’t gonna lose.

  • WeWantDaTruth

    ????

  • Doogie

    No turnovers, Stop the run, Win the Game. TaDa argh. I think they should run it down their throat as much as possible. Playaction off of it perhaps.

  • Doogie

    Yeah from Texas? WTH? Dude has been in medical trials many times, I wonder if he has brain cancer, or may just the crazy bug..

  • WeWantDaTruth

    The Jags CBs are tough….need to get TEs McDonald and The Outlaw involved in the passing attack. Same with Lev Bell.

  • Mrs Bighead

    Hopefully we can get Hilton in off the edge and sack Bortles a couple times and maybe force a fumble

  • Mrs Bighead

    Some lowlife made threats to people in Pittsburgh saying he was going to kill some Steelers players and fans. Now he’s in jail

  • Mrs Bighead

    McDonald is my X factor in this game. He’s too fast for their LBs. If Buffalo had a competent QB they would’ve won last week cuz their TEs were getting open regularly

  • Jaybird

    McDonald is my X factor for the entire playoff and Super Bowl run.

  • Mrs Bighead

    He’s healthy, I’m one of the few that doesn’t think we need to draft a TE early this coming draft. I like what Vance brings to the table

  • Jaybird

    I’m with you- we need a SAFETY and an ILB much more than than a TE.

  • Quite Frankly

    Last 3 games:
    Lost to the 49’ers 44 – 33
    Lost to the Titans 15 – 10
    Beat the Bill 10 – 3 in the wildcard game
    This team is on fire!

  • LifeUhhFindsAWay

    I think we will win too. Just not a fan of ‘guarantees’ before the game …

  • WeWantDaTruth

    OK, thanks. Glad they got the guy in custody.

  • FanInExile

    Thank God the Steelers have a game to distract them from this shtuff.

  • Matt Manzo

    I think McDonald will be something to watch! He could be a difference maker today.

  • Matt Manzo

    Totally!

  • Ichabod

    Too much time in the “pit of misery”