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Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2)
NFL Week 8
Vegas line: Jacksonville -2.5
Game-time: Sunday, October 29th, 1:00 PM
Venue: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Field: Kentucky Blue Grass
Weather at kickoff: 56 with a 60% chance of rain. Winds out of the West at 4 MPH.
The Pittsburgh SportsNation Game Scoop
It’s Halloween weekend, so why couldn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers be best described as Jekyll and Hyde?
Amazingly, despite an offense that is invisible for most games, but appears out of nowhere with a vengeance like Michael Myers in the 4th quarter, the Steelers are 4-2, and are set to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2) in a pivotal match-up this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.
A win against the Jags, who are 2.5 point favorites this week, could really set the table for the Steelers, and set a path that could lead to an AFC North Division title.
After Jacksonville, this three game home-stand continues with Tennessee next Thursday, and Green Bay on November 12th.
After starting off 2-2 and coming off an embarrassing 30-6 loss to Houston, who could ever have envisioned Pittsburgh being at 7-2?
To get there, the defense has to shore up their run defense, which should be bolstered by the return of Cam Heyward in the near future.
Then there is the offense…
A person could literally go insane trying to figure out how Kenny Pickett and Matt Canada’s offense could look like a disaster for most of the game, but when the 4th quarter hits and the game is on the line, Pickett looks like the 2nd coming of Ben Roethlisberger, firing passes downfield to George Pickens, and now Diontae Johnson, with deadly accuracy, and looking like an actual NFL capable offense.
What needs to be done to see this type of offense the entire game?
Inquiring minds want to know.
“I can’t give you an answer on that,” Pickett said. “I’m not sure what it is. It could be a guy here or there, a penalty, a sack, a negative run that puts you behind the chains, and you get out of those plays.”
When the 4th quarter arrives, Pickett and the offense flips the switch, just like Stallone in Over the Top with his hat, and suddenly Pickett’s passing rating soars to 102.8, completing passes at a 73% clip. And after dinking and dunking for three quarters, Pickett has seven pass plays connecting for 20 plus yards in the final stanza.
The Steelers blitzed the LA Rams for two scoring drives and 190 yards in the 4th quarter, stunning the Rams 24-17 when the clock struck zero.
“It was a positive, for sure,” Pickett said in reference to the comeback victory over LA. “It’s nowhere where it needs to be. We want to play a full four quarters, but it was a positive for us.”
Having Johnson back certainly helps, and more help will be on the way if tight end Pat Freiermuth ever returns, or if a deal is struck next week at the NFL trading deadline. Rumors had the team linked to Titan’s WR DeAndre Hopkins.
Rushing the ball, whatever tweaks that Najee Harris and center James Daniels brought to Canada over the bye week, seemed to slightly spark the running game against the Rams, with Harris and Jaylon Warren gaining 85 yards on 20 carries, good for 4.25 yards a pop.
Not great, but a step in the right direction. Harris missed turning the ball upfield in what could’ve been a long gain, but instead bounced outside and took a two yard loss on the play. If Harris can clean up those mistakes, he could finally have a breakout game.
It would be a stern test for Harris to do so this week against a Jacksonville defense that is allowing just 80.5 rushing yards a game, good for 4th best in the NFL.
So, for the Steelers to stretch their winning streak to three games, the best plan of attack is riding the arm of Pickett, and unleashing him upon a Jags secondary that is surrendering 273.8 yards per game in the air, which is next to last in the league.
Perhaps the scoreboard operator at Acrisure could keep the quarter listed with a “4” the entire game.
The smack talk has already begun between the two teams, who were former division rivals when Jacksonville entered the league.
Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins knows his defense has to stop George Pickens, who leads the Steelers with 27 receptions for 500 yards.
“Respectfully, he (Pickens) hasn’t played our corners yet,” said Jenkins. “We’re smart enough to know where the key guys are and how to take away those guys out of the gameplan.”
Pickens, never known to shy away from confrontation, didn’t hesitate to respond.
“They depend on their D-Line a lot,” Pickens said. “With their team having a lot of first-round picks on that D-Line, that’s what they depend on a lot. They kind of hope, hope that the guys hold up long enough, it’s kind of a hope defense.”
Ladies and gentleman, getcha popcorn ready.
The Jacksonville offense has Trevor Lawrence at the helm, who has passed for 1,643 yards, with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also rushed for 206 yards. His main weapons are Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk, with Kirk leading the team with 474 yards and three touchdowns. Evan engram is a more than capable tight end, and leads the team with 41 catches.
Travis Etienne has game breaking speed and is a dual threat at running back. He’s rushed for 504 yards and seven touchdowns, and has caught 24 passes for 196 yards.
Lawrence has been sacked 16 times, so T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith could get ample opportunity to add to their totals.
It would be nice to see the Steelers get out to a lead for once, especially double digits, and let the pass rush pin their ears back and go all out after Lawrence.
One can dream, right?
It’s hard not to like the Steelers in this game. For one, they are playing at home. Secondly, Pittsburgh is listed as 2.5 point underdogs, a role that Mike Tomlin teams thrive in, with the Steelers going 15-4-3 against the spread as home dogs.
Simply put, when this team is challenged, they play their best ball.
Get ready for an old fashioned schoolyard fight this week. The game so many have waited for may finally come to fruition for Pickett and the Pittsburgh offense— yes, meaning witnessing an offense moving the ball in the first half of a game, and finding the endzone multiple times off the arm of Pickett. Could the world be ready to see Johnson with his first touchdown catch since 2021?
The turkey is on the proverbial table for the Pittsburgh offense to take a step forward this week. Can Matt Canada get out of his own way and make this happen?
Somehow, against the odds, the Steelers do it again.
Prediction: Steelers 27 Jaguars 24
TV: CBS (Local: KDKA-TV channel 802 on Xfinity)
- Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Charles Davis (analyst) | Evan Washburn (field reporter)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM
- Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
National Radio: N/A
Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall record: 4-2 (2nd in AFC North)
Last Game: Steelers 24 Rams 17
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
- 17th Season with Steelers
- Overall regular-season record: 167-95-2
- Playoff record: 8-9 (Qualified for playoffs 10 times)
- Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster
- Steelers Team/Individual Statistics
- Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 Schedule
- Points per game: 17.2 (26th)
- Total yards per game: 293.8 (31st)
- Passing yards per game: 212.5 (25th)
- Rushing yards per game: 81.3 (28th)
Kenny Pickett | #8
Pickett has become Mr. Comeback in his short tenure as Steelers quarterback. In the fourth quarter, he completed all nine of his passes for 140 yards, leading the Steelers to a 24-17 road victory over the Rams. Comeback aside, it’s time for Pickett to play a complete game, and not have to rely on 4th quarter magic.
Passing Yards: 1,257| TD Passes: 5 | INT’s: 4 | Sacked: 16
Rushing Yards: 12 | Rushing TD’s: 1
Back-up: Mitch Trubisky | #10
Passing Yards: 18 | TD Passes: 0| INT’s: 0 | Sacked: 0
Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Najee Harris | #22
Harris looked strong running the ball vs the Rams, and could have had an even better day if his vision and awareness was better in going inside instead of bouncing outside for a loss in one of his runs vs LA. If Harris can clean up some of these mistakes, he could be in line for big numbers in the future.
Rushing Yards: 300 | Rushing TD’s: 1
Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 52 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Jaylon Warren | #30
Warren has been getting more carries, and with good cause, as he always finds a way to hit the hole and get positive yardage. Warren has become a weapon catching passes out of the backfield.
Rushing Yards: 156 | Rushing TD’s: 1
Receptions: 22 | Receiving Yards: 165 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Anthony McFarland | #26
Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 11 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Diontae Johnson | #18
Johnson was back after missing the last four games, and made an immediate impact. Now it’s time to find a way into the endzone vs a vulnerable Jacksonville secondary.
Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 127 | Receiving TD’s: 0
George Pickens | #14
Pickens leads the team with 27 receptions for 500 yards. With Johnson on the other side, he now has an even better chance to make splash plays when he can be schemed into favorable match-ups.
Receptions: 27 | Receiving Yards: 500 | Receiving TD’s: 2
Allen Robinson II | #11
Receptions: 18 | Receiving Yards: 144 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Calvin Austin III | #19
The shifty receiver could be utilized in a variety of ways in a competent offense, but…
Receptions: 12 | Receiving Yards: 143 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Pat Freiermuth* | #88
To say Freiermuth has been under utilized is… well, the understatement of the season. Unfortunately, Freiermuth reinjured his hamstring in practice, and has been placed on IR.
Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 53 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Conner Heyward | #83
Heyward makes the most of his opportunities when called upon.
Receptions: 7 | Receiving Yards: 65 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Darnell Washington | #80
The world awaits “Mount” Washington to be utilized in the Steelers passing attack.
Receptions: 1 | Receiving Yards: 10 | Receiving TD’s: 0
STEELERS DEFENSE (Base 3-4)
- Points per game allowed: 21.2 (17th)
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 383.5 (30th)
- Passing yards allowed: 241.1 (25th)
- Rushing yards allowed: 142.3 (28th)
- Sacks: 19 (11th)
- Interceptions: 6 (8th)
DT: Keeanu Benton | #95
Tackles: 13 | Sacks: 1
NT: Montravius Adams | #57
Tackles: 17 | Sacks: 0
DE: Larry Ogunjobi | #99
Tackles: 16 | Sacks: 2
OLB: T.J. Watt | #90
Tackles: 16 | Sacks: 8 | INT: 1 | TD: 1
ILB: Cole Holcomb | #41 or Kwon Alexander | #54
Tackles: 42 | Sacks: 0 Tackles: 36 | Sacks: 1
ILB: Elandon Roberts | #50
Tackles: 34 | Sacks: 0
OLB: Alex Highsmith | #56
Tackles: 21 | Sacks: 2 | INT: 1 | TD: 1
CB: Levi Wallace | #29
Tackles: 24 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 2
FS: Minkah Fitzpatrick | #39
Tackles: 52 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0
SS: Keanu Neal | #31
Tackles: 28 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0
CB: Patrick Peterson | #20 or Joey Porter, Jr. | #24
Tackles: 18 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1 Tackles: 8 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1
NICKLE: Damontae Kazee | #23
Tackles: 25 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0
STEELERS SPECIAL TEAMS
Chris Boswell | #9
Extra Points: 8-8
Field Goals: 11-11
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 2-2
- 30-39 yards: 1-1
- 40-49 yards: 4-4
- 50+ yards: 4-4
Anthony McFarland, Jr. | #26
Average: 30.3 | TD Returns: 0
Godwin Igwebuike | #48
Average: 15.0 | TD Returns: 0
Calvin Austin III | #19
Average: 4.9 | TD Returns: 0
Scouting the Jacksonville Jaguars
Overall record: 5-2 (1st in AFC South)
Last game: Jaguars 31 Saints 24
Head Coach: Doug Pederson
- 7th Season with Jaguars
- Overall regular-season record: 55-47-1 | 14-10 with Jaguars
- Playoff Record: 5-3
- Points per game: 24.7 (9th)
- Total Offense per game: 351.1 (14th)
- Passing yards per game: 237.7 (14th)
- Rushing yards per game: 113.4 (13th)
Trevor Lawrence | #16
Lawrence is starting to play like the player the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him 1st overall in 2021. With weapons like Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk, the future is bright for Lawrence. Don’t sleep on Lawrence when he gets out of the pocket, as he has rushed for 206 yards.
Passing Yards: 1,643 | TD Passes: 8 | INT’s: 3 | Sacked: 16
Rushing Yards: 206 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Back-up: C.J. Beathard | #3
Passing Yards: 9 | TD Passes: 0 | INT’s: 0 | Sacked: 0
Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Travis Etienne, Jr. | #1
Etienne is the lead back and has become a major weapon utilized by Jacksonville, especially catching 24 passes out of the backfield. Has breakaway speed that the Steelers defense has to keep contained.
Rushing Yards: 504 | Rushing TD’s: 7
Receptions: 24 | Receiving Yards: 196 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Tank Bigsby | #4
Bigsby is a bruising back used in goal-line situations.
Rushing Yards: 45 | Rushing TD’s: 2
Receptions: 1 | Receiving Yards: 6 | Receiving TD’s: 0
D’Ernest Johnson | #25
Rushing Yards: 27 | Rushing TD’s: 0
Receptions: 3 | Receiving Yards: 15 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Calvin Ridley | #0
Ridley has found a home in Jacksonville after his tenure in Atlanta. Ridley is 3rd on the team with 27 catches.
Receptions: 27 | Receiving Yards: 368 | Receiving TD’s: 2
Christian Kirk | #13
Kirk has become Lawrence’s go to target in the passing game, leading the team with 474 yards receiving and scoring three touchdowns.
Receptions: 39 | Receiving Yards: 474 | Receiving TD’s: 3
Jamal Agnew | #39
Receptions: 9 | Receiving Yards: 90 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Zay Jones* | #7
Receptions: 8 | Receiving Yards: 78 | Receiving TD’s: 2
Tim Jones | #15
Receptions: 5 | Receiving Yards: 27 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Evan Engram | #17
Engram is Lawrence’s safety valve, leading the team with 41 receptions for 346 yards. He has yet to score a touchdown, and the Steelers would like to keep it that way.
Receptions: 41 | Receiving Yards: 346 | Receiving TD’s: 0
Brenton Strange | #85
Receptions: 4 | Receiving Yards: 34 | Receiving TD’s: 1
Luke Farrell | #89
Receptions: 4 | Receiving Yards: 30 | Receiving TD’s: 0
JAGUARS DEFENSE (Base 4-3)
- Points per game allowed: 20.9 (16th)
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 354.4 (26th)
- Passing yards allowed: 273.8 (31st)
- Rushing yards allowed: 80.5 (4th)
- Sacks: 13 (24th)
- Interceptions: 9 (2nd)
DE: Adam Gotsis | #96
Tackles: 12 | Sacks: 0
DT: Folorunso Futukasi | #91
Tackles: 10 | Sacks: 0
DE: Roy Robertson-Harris | #95
Tackles: 18 | Sacks: 0.5
OLB: Josh Allen | #41
Tackles: 23 | Sacks: 7
ILB: Devin Lloyd | #33
Tackles: 39 | Sacks: 0
ILB: Foyesade Oluokun | #23
Tackles: 81 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1
OLB: Travon Walker | #44
Tackles: 20 | Sacks: 2.5
CB: Tyson Campbell | #32
Tackles: 31 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1
SS: Rayshawn Jenkins | #2
Tackles: 44 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1
FS: Andre Cisco | #5
Tackles: 39 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 3
CB: Darious Williams | #31
Tackles: 28 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 3
JAGUARS SPECIAL TEAMS
Brandon McManus | #8
Extra Points: 18-18
Field Goals: 13-15
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 1-1
- 30-39 yards: 3-3
- 40-49 yards: 7-8
- 50+ yards: 2-3
Jamal Agnew | #39
Average: 29.0 | TD Returns: 0
Christian Kirk | #13
Average: 12 | TD Returns: 0
STEELERS vs JAGUARS HISTORY
Series History: Began in 1995
Overall Record: 13-14
- Home: 6-7
- Away: 7-7
- Postseason: 0-2
Streak: Steelers won the game.
Last regular-season meeting: Steelers Win, 27-3 (Nov. 22, 2020)
Last postseason meeting: Jaguars Win, 45-42 (Jan. 14, 2018)
INJURY REPORT (10/27/23)
IR: DE Cam Heyward, TE Pat Freiermuth (Hamstring)
Questionable: CB Joey Porter Jr. (Calf), CB Levi Wallace (Foot), CB James Pierre (Ankle)
Out: WR Zay Jones (Knee), CB Gregory Junior (Hamstring)
Questionable: CB Tyson Campbell (Hamstring), S Andre Cisco (Hamstring), QB Trevor Lawrence (Knee), OL Walker Little (Knee), OL Brandon Scherff (Ankle)
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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