Two teams that seem to play the same way, and oddly enough have the same record, will do battle in Pittsburgh Sunday when the AFC North leading Steelers take on the wild card leading Jaguars in a key AFC battle. The Steelers have lost their last two vs the Jags, including last seasons ugly 9-0 loss on a Monday night early in the season where the Jags made a pretty big statement with their shutout win over Big Ben and the Steelers.
Now though the venue has changed, and while sometimes it’s not been pretty, the Steelers have flat out been very good at home, winning the close games (Browns, Dolphins) and even the blowouts (49’ers, Seahawks). Sunday promises to be another physical game with both teams coming out and trying to impose their will, and it will be interesting to see simply what team wants it more.
The Steelers were blown out last week in New England, but should be back to form this week, and will have active safety Troy Polamalu back in the secondary making plays after missing the last three weeks. His presence should help the secondary, which last week was toasted for 399 yards against the Pats. On offense, it may be a steady diet of AFC leading rusher Willie Parker, who has been having a great season with 1217 yards. The Jags allow just 93 yards a game on the ground, which makes this a great in the trenches battle.
The Jacksonville offense will test the Steelers run defense as well, as Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combine for the 2nd ranked run offense in the league at 143.8 yards per game. On the other hand, the Steelers won’t be giving them much, as they only allow a measly 72 yards per game on the ground, the best in the league. So you can expect to see David Garrard having to make some plays, and he’ll have to protect the ball and not make any costly turnovers.
Tough game to call. The Steelers have to rebound from last weeks setback to the Pats, and while they’ve had trouble in the past with the Jags, with snow falling and a cold day with terrible towels waving, look for the Steelers to walk away with a key win to move to 10-4.