Following a four-game winning streak and a mini-bye week, the Jacksonville Jaguars look to carry their momentum into Pittsburgh. The Steelers, despite sloppy play and fan calls for their offensive coordinator to be fired, sit at 4-2 in a competitive AFC North.
Jaguars Offensive Matchup vs. the Steelers
The Jaguars passing game has the ability to explode this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh has done very well against tight ends, holding George Kittle and Mark Andrews to a combined nine catches, 84 yards, and no touchdowns. While Evan Engram has thrived with Zay Jones out, he will face a tougher challenge this week. Meanwhile, Steelers' corner Levi Wallace did not practice on Wednesday with a foot injury.
However, the Steelers have been susceptible to wide receivers, including giving up two touchdowns each to Brandon Aiyuk, Davante Adams, and Nico Collins. Despite having one of the better safeties in the league in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh has been poor against the deep pass. Particularly revealing, Steelers’ opponents have targeted deep routes on 24.9 percent of pass plays, compared to just 16.2 percent against the Jaguars.
The Steelers are decently effective against the run. Surprisingly, they do give up 13.4 yards per carry on runs to the right end. Given they only see these runs on 4.5 percent of run plays, I am guessing that most of these runs come when T.J. Watt is on the sidelines. When watching this Jaguars offense, keep an eye on the plays that Watt takes off and see if the Jaguars target Nick Herbig in the run game.
Jaguars Defensive Matchup vs. the Steelers
It is no surprise that this Jaguars’ defense has far exceeded expectations through seven games. And while the run defense gets well-deserved credit, I believe this defense is much more well-rounded than they get credit for and Mike Caldwell is doing an incredible job at adjusting to their opponent.
The Jaguars are slightly above average in pass defense against all position groups. With Pat Freiermuth out, the Jaguars can focus more on defending George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and a familiar face in Allen Robinson.
I expect a similar game plan to the Falcons game. Pickens’ and Johnson’s skillset is comparable to Drake London and Kyle Pitts and the two-headed running attack with threats of running back receptions resembles the Falcons offense. Expect heavier defensive boxes, forcing Pickett to make safe reads, and when he tries to force the ball, expect the ball-hawking Jaguars defense backs to pounce.
Keep an eye out for the statistical recap next week and Go Jags!