Jaguars vs. Steelers Preview

Auguste ArcherCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2008

On the first Sunday of October, the Jacksonville Jaguars will welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for a clash of titans.

Both of these teams, however, come into this matchup riddled with injuries. The Steelers have lost first string running back Willie Parker and second string running back Rashard Mendenhall, and the line hasn't been the same since the departure of guard Alan Faneca.

The Jaguars offensive line has lost Richard Collier, Maurice Williams, Brad Meester and Vince Manuwai, and their secondary is banged up as well with cornerback Rashean Mathis and safety Reggie Nelson both coming off of minor injuries.

Both teams, however, come into this matchup with their playoff hopes very much alive, Pittsburgh is 3-1 and in first place in the AFC North and the Jaguars are 2-2 and two games behind the Titans in the AFC South.

Historically the Jaguars have dominated this series, including two victories in Pittsburgh last season, including one in the AFC Wild Card playoffs, making them the first team to ever beat Pittsburgh twice at home.

Lets take a quick look at how the teams match up:

Quarterback:

Garrard has had a rocky start to the season, and has yet to live up to the expectations set by his sixty million dollar contract signed during the offseason, although he did look pretty good last week against Houston in the fourth quarter and OT.

Roethlisberger has had a serious protection problem and has been beat up because of it. If his offensive line gives him time to work he'll slice up the Jags secondary just like he did in the second quarter of the Wild Card game last year.

Advantage: Steelers

Running Game:

The Jaguars, despite having a Swiss cheese reminiscent offensive line, are ranked 12th in the league in rushing offense. Taylor and Jones-Drew are far too dangerous for the Steelers to completely shut down. The key for the Steelers D is to use those athletic linebackers to limit the Jaguars run game.

The Steelers are barely averaging 100 yards a game on the ground, and now that they are down to their fourth string running back it'll be a miracle if they can run against the Jags defense. They key is to use screen passes and quick outs to establish the passing attack and then pepper in run plays. Yes, I did say it, use the pass to set up the run.

Advantage: Jaguars

Defense:

The Jaguars D has been something of a sieve of late, allowing fourth quarter comeback after fourth quarter comeback. If they don't tighten up on D they won't be winning many games.

Pittsburgh is second in defense overall. Need I say more? Their D has looked like a characteristic Steelers defense. This one is an easy call.

Advantage: Steelers

Overall, I think the Steelers will come into Jacksonville playing smash mouth football. And I think they will leave with a headache and an L.

My pick: Jaguars.

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