I am consumed by the intrigue. Who's going to be the Steelers' quarterback? Who's going to be the Jaguars' running back?
I guess this is what you call chess, except it's played with knees and ankles instead of ivory figures. All right, I'll play the game.
Who will be at quarterback for the Steelers on Sunday?
• I have absolutely no solid information on which to base an answer to that question. Early in the week, my reporter buddies up in Pittsburgh told me Charlie Batch would start for the Steelers and I accepted that opinion because, after all, practices in Pittsburgh are open to the media and those guys have a good handle on the situation. As of Friday morning, however, my reporter buddies were torn between the three choices: Roethlisberger, Tommy Maddox and Batch. Bill Cowher has, no doubt, intentionally heightened the drama. All of a sudden, Maddox is "probable" and ready to go, but Cowher isn't ruling out the possibility Batch will be the guy. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger did some jogging on Thursday and Cowher said he has no rule about not playing if you don't practice. Here's what I'm gonna do: I'm gonna rely on my instincts and my instincts are telling me Roethlisberger will rise from the "grave" on Sunday. Why? Well, I think the young quarterback likes the drama, which is very reminiscent of another Steeler quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, who had a penchant for the same kind of thing. The Steelers are on a short week and Cowher knows Roethlisberger's presence at quarterback would give the Steelers an emotional lift.
Will Fred Taylor be in the starting backfield on Sunday at Heinz Field?
• Again, I have absolutely no solid information on which to base an answer. Jaguars practices are closed to the media and that means any info coming out of practice is tainted with suspicion. Oh, the intrigue. Again, all I have to trust are my instincts and my instincts tell me Taylor will give it a go on Sunday. Why? Because Taylor has been obsessed with proving his toughness this season, as he battles back from last winter's major knee surgery. This Sunday will offer Taylor the greatest of opportunities on one of football's high-profile proving grounds.
You gotta love the intrigue, right?
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Steelers.
- Stop the run—What did you think it would be, stop the pass? I hate to bore you, but it always starts with stop the run when you play the Steelers.
- Be aggressive on offense—You don't beat these guys with conservative offense. That's the Steelers' game. If you wanna beat these guys, you gotta make big plays in the passing game.
- Protect the quarterback—The Steelers have seen the tapes of what the Colts, Jets and Broncos did to the Jaguars' pass-blocking. The Steelers can throw a lot of blitzes at you.
- Stop the screens—The Steelers love to screen and they'll screen anywhere on the field.
- Be physical—You always have to be physical against the Steelers, but it's especially true this week because the Steelers are coming off a tough Monday night game and an all-night return flight.
- Win the kicking game—Steelers special teams are weak. The Jaguars need to press their advantage.
- Target right tackle—The Chargers abused Steelers right tackle Max Starks and the Jaguars need to do the same thing. This should be Reggie Hayward's big day.
- Test their will—The Steelers have a big game in Cincinnati next week. Are they looking ahead?
- Save nothing—With a bye week ahead, there'll be plenty of time to rest.
- Feel it—It's Pittsburgh. It's football country and you can smell it in the air. Temperatures will be in the 60's and the fall colors will be in full display.