AFC Divisional Playoffs Betting Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

2018 NFL Playoffs
AFC Divisional Playoffs
#3 Jacksonville Jaguars at #2 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, January 14, 2018, 1:05 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Opening Line: Pittsburgh -7 1/2 (-105)
Current Line: Pittsburgh -7
Opening Total: 40 1/2
Current Total: 41
Opening Money Line: Steelers -320 / Jaguars +260
Current Money Line: Steelers -400 / Jaguars +300

The Steelers take on the Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Playoofs Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The 13-3 Pittsburgh Steelers are the #2 seed in the AFC and won the AFC North Division. The Steelers had a much needed first round bye last week, and will host the 11-6 Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday afternoon the in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. The Jaguars are the #3 seed and won the AFC South. The winner between the Jags and Steelers will face either the #1 seed New England Patriots or the #5 seed Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game next Sunday.

Jacksonville is in the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season and won a division title for the first time since 1999. The Jaguars beat the #6 seed Buffalo Bills 10-3 last Sunday in the Wild Card Gane. The Jaguars failed to cover the 8 point spread and the game went way under the 39.5 total. It was a defensive struggle to say the least, or more accurately two inept offenses.

Jacksonville leads the series 13-11 against Pittsburgh. The Jaguars won at Pittsburgh 30-9 in October in the regular season to snap a three game losing streak to the Steelers. The Jacksonville defense dominated that game by forcing five Ben Roethlisberger interceptions. This is the second playoff meeting between the Jaguars and Steelers. Jacksonville upset Pittsburgh 31-29 in the wild card game in 2008.

Jacksonville is coached by Doug Marrone, in his first year with the Jaguars. The Jaguars have home losses to the Tennessee Titans 37-16 and Los Angeles Rams 27-17 and road losses to the New York Jets 23-20 in overtime, Arizona Cardinals 27-24, San Francisco 49ers 44-33 and Titans 15-10. A two game losing streak to end the season ended any hopes of a first round bye for the Jags. Jacksonville has road wins over the Houston Texans 29-7, Pittsburgh Steelers 30-9, Indianapolis Colts 27-0, and Cleveland Browns 19-7, plus a neutral site win in London over the Baltimore Ravens 44-7. The Jaguars have home wins over the Cincinnati Bengals  23-7, Los Angeles Chargers 20-17 in overtime, Colts 30-10, Seattle Seahawks 30-24 and Texans 45-7.  The Jaguars are 9-8 ATS and the total is 8-9 this season.

Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Tomlin. The Steelers have a road loss at the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime, and home losses against the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9 and New England Patriots 27-24. Pittsburgh has road wins over the Cleveland Browns 21-18, Baltimore Ravens 26-9, Kansas City Chiefs 19-13, Detroit Lions 20-15, Indianapolis Colts 20-17, Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 and Houston Texans 34-6,  plus home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 26-9, Bengals 29-14 Tennessee Titans 40-17, Green Bay Packers 31-28, Baltimore Ravens 39-38 and Browns 28-24 two weeks ago. Pittsburgh was a 5 point favorite against Cleveland 28-24  and the total was 38.5. The Steelers are 7-9 ATS and the total is 6-10 this season.

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Jacksonville is outscoring teams 26-17 this season. The Jaguars are #5 in scoring and are #2 in points allowed. Jacksonville averages 366 total yards per game on offense including 225 passing and 141 rushing yards. The Jags are #6 in total offense and lead the league in rushing. On defense, Jacksonville allows 286 total yards including 170 passing yards and 116 rushing yards. The Jaguars are #2 in total defense and #1 in pass defense. Jacksonville is 95/240 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 80/233. Jacksonville has forced 55 sacks and allowed 24 this season. The Jaguars are +10 in turnovers. Jacksonville has scored seven defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown. The Jags have allowed three defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Quarterback Blake Bortles has completed 60.2% of his passes for 3,687 yards with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, and has rushed for 322 yards on 57 carries with 2 touchdowns. He has been sacked 24 times.  He has started 48 straight games.

Rookie Running back Leonard Fournette has 268 carries for 1,040 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 36 catches for 302 yards and a touchdown.   Chris Ivory has 112 carries for 382 yards and a touchdown, along with 21 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown.  T.J. Yeldon has 49 carries for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 30 catches for 224 yards. He is probable with an illness. Corey Grant has 30 carries for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 3 catches for 41 yards.

Receiver Keelan Cole has 42 catches for 738 yards and 3 touchdowns. Marqise Lee has 56 catches for 702 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury.   Allen Hurns has 39 catches for 484 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Tight end Marcedes Lewis has 24 catches for 318 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. Dede Westbrook has 27 catches for 339 yards and a touchdown. Receivers Arrelious Benn, Larry Pinkard, Allen Robinson and Rashad Greene are all out for the season. Six defensive players and three offensive linemen are on the injury report.

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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 25-19 this season. Pittsburgh is #8 in points allowed and #7 in scoring. The Steelers average 378 yards per game on offense including 274 passing and 104 rushing yards. The Steelers are #3 in total and #3 in passing offense. Pittsburgh allows 307 total yards per game including 201 passing yards and 106 rushing yards. The Steelers are #10 or better in all three categories. Pittsburgh is 95/217 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 78/218. The Steelers have forced 56 sacks and allowed 24 this season. Pittsburgh is +2 in turnovers. The Steelers have a defensive touchdown plus a special teams touchdown, and have allowed two defensive touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 64.2% of his passes for 4,251 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has been sacked 21 times and has 47 rushing yards. Landry Jones started the week 17 contest against the Browns for a resting Roethlisberger. Jones threw for 239 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times.

Running back Le’Veon Bell has 321 carries for 1,291 yards with 9 touchdowns, along with 85 catches for 655 yards and 2 touchdowns. James Conner has 32 carries for 144 yards. He is out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver Antonio Brown has 101 catches for 1,533 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is probable to return from a partially torn calf muscle and has been practicing all week. JuJu Smith-Schuster has 58 catches for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant has 50 catches for 603 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 6 carries for 22 rushing yards.  Tight end Jesse James has 43 catches for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Vance McDonald has 14 catches for 188 yards and a touchdown.  Six defensive players  are listed on the injury report. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is out for the season after undergoing spinal surgery.

The road team has covered the last four games in this series. The underdog is 9-1 ATS in the series. The Jaguars are 12-5 ATS against the Steelers including 4-1 in Pittsburgh.

Jacksonville has enough defensive firepower to keep this close, but the offense needs to be a lot better. Borltes put up some good numbers this season but has struggled late in the season. You can get away with scoring 10 points at home against a mediocre Bills team, but that will not cut it against an elite Steelers team who is relatively healthy. I like the Jags to stay within the touchdown spread but the Steelers return to the AFC Championship game in a low scoring game.

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