Jaguars vs. Steelers: TV Schedule, Predictions for 2018 AFC Divisional Game

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 14, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 25: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hands off to Lamar Miller #26 against the Houston Texans during game action at NRG Stadium on December 25, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Houston Texans 34-6. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars traveled to Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers 30-9 in Week 5 thanks to five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

The Steelers will look for revenge as the Jags come back to Heinz Field with an AFC Championship berth on the line. The winner will head to New England to face the No. 1-seeded Patriots on Sunday, January 21.

Here's a look at the television and live-stream information for Sunday's game as well as some analysis and predictions.



Sunday, January 14, at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS and CBS All Access: No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers


Analysis and Predictions

Le'Veon Bell Featured Prominently

When these two teams last played, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell only rushed 15 times, which is seven below his season average, per Pro Football Reference.

Don't expect Bell to rush in the teens yet again. The Steelers are 6-0 when Bell carries the ball 25 or more times, so the Steelers should feed Bell for all four quarters.

Furthermore, the Jaguars defense is vulnerable against the run. Per Football Outsiders, Jacksonville finished fifth-last in adjusted line yards and seventh-last in yards allowed to running backs per carry.

The Jags are the best in the NFL against the pass, holding opponents to just 4.9 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt. Teams can find themselves in trouble trying to attack the vaunted Jags pass defense, which finished second in interceptions (21) and sacks (55).

Therefore, the Steelers should let Bell lead the way and favor the run over the pass. If he can't get going on the ground, then Bell should be utilized often in the short passing game. The former Michigan State Spartan amassed an eye-popping 85 catches on 106 targets for 655 yards and two scores this year.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with Bell 10 times when they played the Jags, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a reception total that approaches (or even hits) double digits again.

Ultimately, a solid performance from Bell is the Steelers' best bet at reaching the AFC Championship against New England. Expect to see his name called often on Sunday.


Jaguars Offense Stalls in Frigid Temperatures

According to the National Weather Service, the high will be 16 degrees in Pittsburgh on Sunday, with the wind chill value at a balmy zero.

The players are lucky that a stiff wind won't accompany the cold temperatures, but the warm-weather Jacksonville Jaguars play more than half of the season in warm-weather climates or domes and aren't used to this environment.

It's a small sample size, but the Jags haven't fared well on offense when the temperature is 40 degrees or below this year. Jacksonville nearly lost to the winless Cleveland Browns in 38-degree weather and 16 mile-per-hour winds. They led only 10-7 until the end of the fourth quarter when they scored nine unanswered points on a field goal and defensive touchdown.

Against the Tennessee Titans in Week 17, the Jags suited up in unusually cold temperatures for Nashville (23 degrees). The Jags didn't fare well on offense then either, scoring just one touchdown in a 15-10 loss.

Maybe there's something to it, maybe there isn't. It's a small sample size, but southern teams do have a disadvantage when they are playing northern teams used to these kinds of environments.

Furthermore, the Jags offense simply hasn't fared well in the past two weeks. Aside from the aforementioned loss to the Titans, Jacksonville struggled to score 10 at home against the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card round. The cold temps and their recent slump could haunt them in the divisional round.


Pick: Steelers 20, Jaguars 10

Look for Bell to rush for over 100 yards and lead the Steelers back to the AFC Championship. The Jags offense will score 10 points for the third straight week, but their defense will keep them in the game until the fourth quarter.


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