JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2020 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Pittsburgh Steelers in TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They create pressure on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Despite losing against Green Bay, the Jaguars played well against one of the best teams in the NFL. Jaguars rookie nose tackle DaVon Hamilton is coming off the best game of his young career. If he can continue at that pace, and the Jaguars surprise Pittsburgh with some blitzes, an upset is possible.
The Steelers will win if: They play their normal game. Pittsburgh is dominant. The Steelers have arguably the best defensive front seven in football and lead the NFL in sacks. They will be able to put pressure on Jaguars quarterback Jake Luton, who is making his third career start. Pittsburgh should be able to throw against the Jaguars' young and depleted secondary. The Steelers are scoring 30 points a game; there is no reason to think that they won't be able to do that Sunday.
As Ballou sees it: This rivalry is split seven victories each over the last 14 games. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has made his point to the team to not overlook the Jaguars despite their record. The Jaguars continue to play hard, but the Steelers are the only undefeated team in the NFL for a reason. It will be closer than some think, but Pittsburgh is just a better team. The Steelers will win their 10th consecutive game while Jacksonville drops its ninth consecutive game.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They get a great effort from the offensive line, specifically the two tackles – Jawaan Taylor and Cam Robinson — against an outstanding Steelers defensive line. If the Jaguars can stay balanced running the ball with Robinson and give Luton time to throw, there are plays to be made. They must also win the turnover battle by at least two to ensure a couple of extra possessions.
The Steelers will win if: They play smart football and don't give the Jaguars extra possessions with short fields. With the NFL's only undefeated record and a future Hall of Fame QB in Big Ben, the Steelers are clearly the better team and more than anything just need to play a clean game.
As Boselli sees it: This is a super tough matchup for the Jaguars – and after seeing the Jaguars give the Packers all they could handle last week, the Steelers will be ready to play. I believe the young Jaguars will play hard like they do each week and keep it interesting for the first half. But the Steelers will be too much in the end: Steelers 35, Jaguars 13.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They can pressure Roethlisberger and get him off his spot. The Steelers don't run it as well as they once did, and Big Ben isn't as good at making plays off schedule as he once was. And Luton has to get the ball out -- lots of quick game. The Steelers do an exceptional job of rushing the passer.
The Steelers will win if: They stop rookie running back James Robinson and force the Jags to pass. Pittsburgh loves to make teams one-dimensional, then attack with a variety of blitzes out of its 3-4 defense. The Steelers also must protect Roethlisberger and let him attack Jacksonville's young secondary.
As Frangie sees it: This definitely could be a trap game for Pittsburgh. The Steelers are unbeaten – meaning they are due to lose – and they are heavily-favored, on the road, against a team that tends to play well against them. I think the Jags are in this one late, as they have been the last few. I believe it comes down to the fourth quarter to see which team makes one more play.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They play as they did at Green Bay last week. Solid defense with a couple of takeaways, big special teams play and Robinson controlling the ground was outstanding, but the team must add "finish" to the list.
The Steelers will win: If they play their physical brand of defense and have Luton on the run. Pittsburgh is one of the NFL's best defenses and make it tough on any quarterback – but especially rookies making their third NFL start.
As Lageman sees it: This is a tough game for the Jaguars. Roethlisberger is having a great season in his 17th NFL season and scoring a lot of points with his stable of weapons. The Jaguars are a very young team playing hard and trying to get over the hump. The offensive line must play at a level it has yet achieved for the Jaguars to have a chance.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They pressure Roethlisberger. The Jags are more active up front and Big Ben will make some mistakes holding the football, so pressuring him gives them the best chance for turnovers. Much like last week, the Jags must win the turnover battle by at least two to pull this game out.
The Steelers will win if: They keep Robinson under 100 yards. Robinson is the catalyst for the Jaguars and Luton can't be asked to the shoulder the load by himself. If Robinson can't keep the Steelers defense honest and then some, the Jaguars' path to victory will be tough.
As Martineau sees it: The Jaguars played inspired football and coached a heck of a game last week in Green Bay. I think they will continue to do the same, but it won't be enough. I like Pittsburgh pulling away in the second half for a 30-17 victory.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They play by far their best game of the season, win the turnover statistic and find a way to run Robinson the entire game. The last part will be key and could allow the Jaguars to control the tempo and shorten the game. But they must get a lead and stay within a score the entire game. That's a huge task this week.
The Steelers will win if: Roethlisberger gets hot early and the Steelers get an early lead. If that happens, the Steelers' pass rush – the NFL's best at sacking quarterbacks and forcing turnovers – could make Sunday an awful afternoon for Luton.
As Oehser sees it: It's hard to see the Jaguars winning Sunday. The Steelers have one of the NFL's best defenses and Roethlisberger is making a strong case as the NFL's Most Valuable Player. When an experienced quarterback is playing at that level with a defense that good, it's a tough combination to upset.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can win the battle on the line of scrimmage. They did it last week until the very end when offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor were pushed backwards on the final offensive series. They must be even better this week against a team that has long been known as the most physical in the NFL. You don't beat the Steelers without being able to run the ball and stop the run. You don't do that unless you're the more physical team – and this week for all 60 minutes.
The Steelers will win if: Roethlisberger stands in the pocket and picks the Jaguars apart. He has my vote for NFL MVP right now for the undefeated Steelers. He's playing some of his best football in his 17th NFL season and looks invincible when he has time to throw. He had 333 yards and four touchdowns passing last week against the Cincinnati Bengals – and that was after missing the entire week of preparation while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. If he's on his game, it's usually too much to overcome.
As Sexton sees it: I know these games are usually among the best the Jaguars play when the Steelers are on the schedule and I have seen every one of them up close. But the Steelers might be the best team in football and the Jaguars are on the other end of the spectrum this season. I don't see the Jaguars' defense being able to contain Big Ben and I don't think the offense can keep pace on the scoreboard. The Steelers won't overlook the Jaguars. They've been down that road before. They'll be on their game.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They use a similar formula to last week. Winning the turnover battle combined with a special teams score helped dramatically, but the offense must finish drives in the end zone.
The Steelers will win if: They get an early lead and force the Jaguars out of a balanced offensive attack. Once that Steelers pass rush gets cranked up, look out.
As Shadrick sees it: The Steelers will be on high alert this week after the Jaguars nearly upset the Packers a week ago. This Steelers team is the best in football, but the same mindset applies for the Jaguars this week: stay positive, go play hard, continue to improve and see what happens Sunday.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They force turnovers. The Steelers have much more experience than the Jaguars, not to mention they are undefeated. It's lofty to think the Jaguars will win this game for those reasons, but crazier things have happened in this rivalry. The Jaguars can keep themselves in this game by forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them if they come.
The Steelers will win if: Their pass rush is all over Luton. This is Luton's third NFL start; the Jaguars' offensive line must hold off a lethal Steelers pass rush to give themselves a chance. If Pittsburgh's pass rush gets going with a few sacks in succession, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said this could get ugly. The offensive line controlling the pass rush will keep the Jaguars in the game.
As Sullivan sees it: You can't expect the Jaguars to win this game; that is the reality of an eight-game losing streak against the NFL's best record. This is David vs Goliath. I do think the Jaguars will stay in this game and make it competitive like we have seen them do the past two weeks. Right now, the effort we are seeing is what is most important.