The Jaguars head to Pittsburgh this weekend to take on the Steelers. Earlier this season, in week five, the Jaguars beat down the Steelers 30-9 in Pittsburgh. Now, the two teams prepare to face off in the AFC Divisional Round of the Playoffs. This time it's win or go home.
The Jaguars are 7.5 point underdogs in this one, but they should be able to attack the Steelers defense in a variety of ways.
Here, I'll outline three ways the Jaguars can potentially move the ball against the Steelers.
1. Attack Sean Spence in Coverage
The Steelers sadly lost the heart and soul of their defense, Ryan Shazier, to a devastating spinal injury just weeks ago. The Steelers misfortune could greatly benefit the Jaguars in this matchup. Shazier's backup, Sean Spence, has struggled greatly since entering the starting lineup for the Steelers. He is a huge liability for the Steelers in coverage -- a liability the Jaguars should take advantage of. If the Jaguars can get Spence matched up on RBs out of the backfield or slot receivers they should be able to get a fair amount of mismatches throughout the contest.
2. Attack the edge in the run game
The Jaguars already employ this strategy quite a bit, but they should make it even more of a focus this week. The strength of the Pittsburgh defense is the interior. With Stephon Tuitt, Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Tyson Alualu all playing well on the inside the Jaguars should look to attack the edges. The Steelers linebackers, without Ryan Shazier, are far from imposing against the run. They've allowed an average of 4.4 yards per carry this season and have been even worse since Shazier left the lineup, allowing 507 yards on 100 carries over the last four games without him. TJ Watt could do his fair share of disrupting against outside runs, but if the Jaguars attack the side of the ball where either Bud Dupree or Bryan Chickillo is lined up, they could find great success.
3. Attack the Steelers Safeties
The Steelers two starting safeties, Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis, are both liabilities in coverage. If the Jaguars can get these two lined up with tight ends, slot receivers, and running backs they might able to maintain a more balanced attack than they did in their week five win over the Steelers in which Blake Bortles threw the ball only 14 times. Neither safety should be able to stick with any of the Jaguars receivers or backs on a regular basis.
Do you think the Jaguars offense has what it takes to beat the Steelers in the Divisional Round? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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