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NFL Divisional Playoffs Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
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13 Jan 2018 04:55 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette against Pittsburgh. (Image Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at the Divisional Playoffs matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars

Series: Jaguars lead 13-11; Streak: Steelers have won three of the past four; Last Meeting: Jaguars 30, Steelers 9 (10.08.17)

Time (Sunday): 1:05 PM ET; TV: CBS (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn)

How They Got Here:

It wasn’t pretty in the Wild Card round, but the Jacksonville Jaguars won their first postseason game in a decade, as Doug Marrone is just the third coach to get Jax into the playoffs. Mike Tomlin is the third coach to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl win and is one of three coaches in these playoffs to have held the Lombardi Trophy. The Steelers went 13-3 to win the AFC North and their 36 postseason wins are the most in NFL history.

When the Jaguars Have the Ball:

Quarterback Blake Bortles did two key things to help the Jaguars win last week. He threw for a touchdown (only TD in the game) and rushed for a career-high 88 yards. His five runs of 10-plus yards were the second most by a quarterback in a playoff game since 1960. On the season, Bortles threw for 3,687 yards, his third-straight year with at least 3,500 yards. Wide out Marqise Lee led the team with 56 grabs, while rookie Keelan Cole provided a big-play threat with his 17.8 yards per catch, tops among this draft class. Jacksonville’s most prominent first-year player is Leonard Fournette. He led all rookies with nine rushing TDs and he ran for 1,040 yards on the season, including 181 with two scores at Pittsburgh.

No team gets after the quarterback better than the Steelers who led the league with 56 sacks this past season. High-sack teams typically do most of their damage coming from the outside, as the Steelers have done for years, but not this season’s bunch. Defensive end Cameron Heyward finished third in the conference and led the team with 12 sacks, a new career high for the former first-round pick. In addition to their interior linemen, the inside linebackers do work. A blitzing Vince Williams got to the quarterback an impressive eight times. Their top edge rusher is outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who recorded seven sacks, tied for second among rookies.

When the Steelers Have the Ball:

Pittsburgh had a league-high eight Pro Bowlers selected, six on the offensive side of the ball. They have the triplets of course in Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown. Setting a franchise record with his fifth 4,000-yard season, Roethlisberger finished fifth in the NFL passing (4,251) and his streak of seven-straight games with multiple TD passes is a team record. Brown led the league with 1,533 yards and he’s gone over 100 receiving yards in four of his past five playoff games. Their top all-around talent is Bell, who finished second in the NFL with 1,946 scrimmage yards. Bell led all running backs with 85 catches and he’s reached 160 scrimmage yards in two of his past three postseason games. Not to be underestimated is the trio of Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Alejandro Villanueva, giving the Steelers a Pro Bowler at every position along the O-line.

If there’s a pass rush that can rival Pittsburgh’s, it’s the Jaguars who finished second with 55 sacks and led the NFL with seven defensive scores. Their 21 INTs were second in the league, including five against the Steelers, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Jacksonville has Pro Bowler cover corners in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye with impact players up and down the D-line. Calais Campbell led the AFC with 14.5 sacks, while fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was one of two players in the league with double-digit sacks (12) and at least five forced fumbles (6). Bouye has two INTs, a forced fumble, and seven PDs in his past three playoff games and Ramsey had a game-clinching INT in the final minute last week.

Score: Steelers 24, Jaguars 13

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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