PITTSBURGH (AP)JACKSONVILLE (5-2) at PITTSBURGH (4-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, CBS
OPENING LINE: Jaguars by 1 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Jaguars 5-2; Steelers 4-2.
SERIES RECORD: Jaguars lead 14-13.
LAST MEETING: Steelers beat Jaguars 27-3 on Nov. 11, 2020.
LAST WEEK: Jaguars beat Saints 31-24; Steelers beat Los Angeles Rams 24-17.
JAGUARS OFFENSE: OVERALL (14), RUSH (13), PASS (14), SCORING (10).
JAGUARS DEFENSE: OVERALL (26), RUSH (4), PASS (31), SCORING (9).
STEELERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (31), RUSH (28), PASS (25), SCORING (24 )
STEELERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (30), RUSH (28), PASS (25), SCORING (18)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Jaguars plus-6; Steelers plus-6.
JAGUARS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Calvin Ridley has finished with 40 yards receiving or fewer in five of seven games this season, far below expectations following a dominant training camp. Coach Doug Pederson is quick to defend Ridley, saying defenses are doing everything possible to contain him. Help could be on the way. WR Zay Jones (knee) is expected to return this week, which would seemingly make it tougher for the Steelers to focus on Ridley.
STEELERS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR George Pickens. The 6-foot-4 Pickens is starting to string together consistent performances as he gets into the meat of his second season. Pickens has at least three receptions in every game and his 18.5 yards per catch is second in the league, a number that could go up now that he’ll face fewer double teams with Diontae Johnson back from a hamstring injury.
KEY MATCHUP: Jaguars RT Anton Harrison against Steelers LB T.J. Watt. Harrison, a rookie, will have to find a way to keep one of the most disruptive defensive players in the league in check. Harrison struggled against Kansas City’s Chris Jones earlier in the season and now finds himself up against a leading candidate for AP Defensive Player of the Year.
KEY INJURIES: With a bye week on deck, the Jaguars could give CB Tyson Campbell (hamstring), LG Walker Little (knee) and DT DaVon Hamilton (back infection) more time to fully heal. … Pittsburgh’s CB Levi Wallace (knee) and backup G Nate Herbig (illness) missed time this week. Otherwise the Steelers are relatively healthy. Pittsburgh nears the midpoint of the season missing two just starters – tight end Pat Freiermuth and defensive tackle Cam Heyward – both of whom are on injured reserve.
SERIES NOTES: The Steelers have won each of the past two meetings, but the Jaguars have largely dominated their former division rivals in Pittsburgh. Jacksonville has won five of the past six meetings with the Steelers at Acrisure Stadium, including playoff victories in the 2007 and 2017 playoffs.
STATS AND STUFF: The Jaguars have won four straight to take control of the AFC South. The Steelers begin a three-game homestand with momentum following consecutive fourth-quarter comeback victories over Baltimore and the Los Angeles Rams. … Jacksonville QB Trevor Lawrence is 3-0 with four TD passes and an INT in three road starts this season. … Jaguars RB Travis Etienne is looking to become the first NFL player since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) with two or more rushing TD in four consecutive games. Etienne ranks third in the league with a career-high seven rushing TDs this season. … Jacksonville TE Evan Engram needs 54 yards receiving to join Jeremy Shockey as the NFL’s only TEs with 40 or more catches and 400 yards in each of their first seven seasons. … Jaguars LB Josh Allen is tied for fourth in the league with seven sacks. … Jacksonville LB Foye Oluokun is looking for his third consecutive game with at least 14 tackles and two pass defenses. … Jaguars CB Darious Williams has a pass defense in every game this season. … The Steelers, who are facing Lawrence for the first time, are 67-37-4 when going against a QB taken first overall, including a win over LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford last week. … Pittsburgh’s 31st-ranked offense came to life in the fourth quarter in Los Angeles. The Steelers piled up 190 yards in the final 15 minutes, their most yards in any quarter since a loss to Minnesota in December 2021. … Pittsburgh’s three fourth-quarter comeback victories this season are tops in the NFL. … The Steelers are finding their stride in October, a time of year when they often get it going. Pittsburgh is 44-20 in October since Mike Tomlin became head coach in 2007. That’s the third-highest winning rate in October in the NFL over that span. … Pittsburgh has grown accustomed to playing – and thriving – in tight games. The Steelers have 26 victories by eight points or fewer since the start of the 2020 season, the most of any team. … Watt’s seventh career interception last week against the Rams put the wheels in motion for Pittsburgh’s comeback. Watt is one of four players since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 to have 85 sacks, 25 forced fumbles and seven interceptions in his career. The others are Julius Peppers, Terrell Suggs and Hall of Famer Jason Taylor.
FANTASY TIP: The Steelers have a habit of playing tight, low-scoring games, particularly at home. Pittsburgh K Chris Boswell could be a difference-maker and is coming in on a hot streak. Boswell has made 15 consecutive field goals going back to last season and has been remarkably consistent on kicks of 50 yards or more. Boswell is 28 of 34 from 50 and beyond, the best rate in NFL history among kickers with at least 30 attempts from that range.
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