Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6 SU, 9-8 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3 SU, 7-9 ATS)
NFL Playoffs DIVISIONAL ROUND
Date/Time: Sunday, January 14th, 2018 1:05 PM ET
Where: Heinz Field Pittsburgh, PA
by Keith, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAX +7.5 / PIT -7.5
The AFC Divisional Round moves on with a potent match-up featuring the leagues best offense against the leagues best defense. These two already met earlier this year and assuredly this game is primed for revenge angles when the #2 Seed AFC North Champions Pittsburgh Steelers square off with the #3 seed AFC South Champions the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Steel City. The contest will be aired for national audiences on CBS with a kick-off time of 1:05 PM ET on Sunday, January 14th. The two teams met earlier this year and Jacksonville rolled the Steelers in a blowout win. The Jags come in off a Wildcard Round win in Jacksonville when they defeated the Buffalo Bills 10-3 in a classic defensive struggle. The Jaguars failed to cover the spread whilst doing so. For Pittsburgh, the Steelers come in off a bye and were therefore granted an extra week to prepare for this home game.
For the first time in nineteen years, the Buffalo Bills played in a post-season game. The drought was the longest in all four major sports. Whilst the story was of that of a feel-good tale, the Jaguars put it to an end. The team also known as Sacksonville has also taken to the hearts of many as they took the AFC South with fury in the 2017 season. Jacksonville for many years had also established a reputation as one of the bottom-feeders of the NFL. The Jaguars have lacked support and as a result of no home cooking, there were discussions to move the Jaguars to London, England on a permanent basis as they seem to draw more with English audiences in the International Series than they did in their own city.
Pittsburgh owns the best offense in the NFL in terms of talent and quality. The combination of wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back LeVeon Bell makes the Steelers a lethal adversary as they can erupt at any given moment. They also have breakout star lining up beside Brown at the wide-out position. His name is Juju Smith-Schuster. Though he is just a rookie, he has already incinerated opposing secondaries to emerge as a key complement to Brown who draws double coverage everywhere goes. Whilst this offense is primed and well-oiled, the Jaguars are the premiere unit when it comes to defense in all the playoffs. As mentioned in previous analyses, the Jaguars had the opportunity to finish the season as the only unit in league history to lead in sacks, total defense, and scoring defense. Whilst Jacksonville was unable to do so they did finish in the runner-up position in some of these categories. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of this ensemble was on full display last Sunday.
From the get-go, the market has taken a liking to the Steelers. This is illustrated in line movements upwards of 1.5 points. Presently 84% of the cash and 79% of the ticket action is on Pittsburgh in this market to confirm. In Over/Under markets, the figure has lowered by half of a point to 41. 59% of the cash is on the Over whilst 61% of the ticket action is on the Under. From consensus perspectives, 60% like the Jaguars in this market whilst 82% of the public like the Over.
The last team to defeat a team in the regular season and then in the playoffs was the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007. Their opponent? The Pittsburgh Steelers. In an ironic twist of fate, it seems that this narrative has unfolded yet again at pivotal stage of the post-season. Despite this wrinkle, many are electing to back the Steelers by virtue of the fact they get this one at home in conditions not conducive to a warm-weather team like the Jaguars. Whilst this is a clever betting angle, it may find takers paying extra to back Pittsburgh in this market. The fact remains that Jacksonville owns an edge in the defense department and the old saying carries water: offense wins games defense wins championships. We just so happen to get the defense with over a touchdown to play with. Grab the points.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: JACKSONVILLE +7.5. – Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a 50% bonus up to $250 at one of the web’s oldest and most trusted betting sites: BOVADA