Jacksonville (9-4) at Pittsburgh (9-4)

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense
5th Ranked against the Run
27th Ranked against the Pass
Jacksonville Jaguars Offense
2nd Ranked in Rushing
20th Ranked in Passing

Pittsburgh Steelers Defense
2nd Ranked against the Run
2nd Ranked against the Pass
Pittsburgh Steelers Offense
3rd Ranked in Rushing
24th Ranked in Passing

This week’s contest between the Steelers and the Jaguars is a pivotal game for both teams but also for the Cleveland Browns who trail Pittsburgh by only one game in the AFC North. Of the three teams that the pro football schedule has served up to Cleveland coming down the stretch, only one of them (Buffalo) has a winning record, and even the Bills have just barely gotten their noses above the .500 mark with a 7-6 record. A win by the Steelers would clinch a playoff berth and keep them in control of their division, while eroding the Jags status as frontrunner for the first AFC wild card. A win by Jacksonville however could leave the Steelers and Browns tied for first place in the AFC North if Cleveland also beats Buffalo.

Though the Steelers have put together a strong running game this year they face a Jacksonville line that hasn’t allowed any single player to gain more than 100 yards on the ground this season since Tennessee running back Chris Brown did it in the season opener. And no team has broken the 100 yard rushing mark against the Jags for the past five weeks. But Pittsburgh does have some advantages including a strong showing at home where they are 7-0 this year, and a highly rated quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger going up against a Jaguars squad that has not stopped their opponents passing game very well this season.

Expect the Steelers quality linebackers to keep Jaguars running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew in check long enough for Pittsburgh to put some points on the board by mixing up the solid running of Willie Parker with some passing plays to wide receiver Hines Ward and tight end Heath Miller. Prediction – Steelers just squeeze past the Jags to keep their home record perfect.

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