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Sat 13/01/2018 - 03:06 EST

NFL Playoffs: Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Vegas Picks

Betting Line Identical To Week 5 Matchup

So, what happened in Week 5 when the Jacksonville Jaguars crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9 at Heinz Field?

It’s the most important question to answer as these two AFC teams meet in the divisional round on Sunday.

Brown, Bell and Roethlisberger all played for the Steelers, who were 3-1 at the time. Blake Bortles had his usual day of under 100 yards passing with an interception for the Jaguars, who were 2-2. And many forget, the score was just 7-6 Jacksonville at halftime.

Most fans will point to Roethlisberger’s five interceptions, and that’s very true. But two other factors cannot be overlooked: The Jaguars’ defense, especially their secondary, is one of the best in the league, and Leonard Fournette carried the ball 28 times for 181 yards — the most any running back has gained against the Steelers all season.

For Pittsburgh to beat Jacksonville this weekend, the game plan seems simple: Shut down the run and make Bortles beat you in the air. The Buffalo Bills tried the same attack last weekend in the wild card round, and it almost worked. Bortles was terrible, but so were the Bills. The Jags won 10-3.

The betting line in Week 5: Pittsburgh (-7.5), Over/under total (41.5). The betting line for the divisional round: Pittsburgh (-7.5), Over/under total (41) (odds provided by bovada.lv).The lines are almost identical. However, what’s at stake in much bigger.

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In the Week 5 game, Ben Roethlisberger went 33-for-55 for 312 yards passing. Antonio Brown had 10 catches for 157 yards. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 47 yards on 15 carries. The superstars touched the ball often. So, here’s the next question before you bet on the game: Can the Jaguars do it again, with a trip to the AFC championship on the line?


Why Jacksonville will win:

  • Defense gives up less than 16 points a game.
  • Jaguars 10-3 against conference opponents.
  • Crushed Steelers in Week 5, including five interceptions.

Why Pittsburgh will win:

  • Steelers 6-2 at home, 10-2 against AFC opponents.
  • Leading receiver returning to lineup after injury.
  • Experience; seventh trip to playoffs in last decade.

Some more stats to consider:

  • Steelers are 3-5 against the spread (ATS) when favored by a touchdown or more this season, while Jaguars are 1-0 ATS when underdogs by a touchdown or more.
  • Steelers 7-9 ATS this season, while Jaguars are 9-8 ATS, including wild card game.
  • Steelers 6-2 at Heinz Field this season, Jaguars 4-4 on the road.
  • Steelers +98 in point differential, Jaguars +149 — third best in the league.
  • Steelers +2 in turnover ratio, Jaguars +10 — fifth best in the league.

The loss to Jacksonville was, by far, Roethlisberger’s worst game of the season. It obviously motivated the star quarterback and the Steelers as they won eight straight games after that blowout.

Roethlisberger won’t be in the MVP conversation this year, but the 14-year veteran did finish the regular season with 4,251 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions — just about his average career numbers.

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Bell, who has been healthy all season, carried the load on the ground with 321 rushes for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 85 receptions and two touchdowns in the passing game.

Brown, who should be in the MVP discussion this season, led all receivers with 101 catches for 1,533 yards and nine scores.

Bortles had another mediocre year for the Jaguars. He threw for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Fournette finished the regular season with 1,040 rushing yards and nine TDs, while Marqise Lee was the leading receiver with 56 catches and three scores.

Underdogs covered in all four games on wild card weekend. The Jacksonville defense will have to keep this one a low-scoring game to beat the spread or possibly win it outright.

VGB’s pickJacksonville (+7.5), Under (41)

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