Pittsburgh has one of the most potent running back-receiver combos in football – but it has been the defense that has ruled the day as the 3-1 Steelers look to continue their hot stretch against visiting Jacksonville. Pittsburgh is still looking to get into an offensive rhythm but has held opponents to just 14.8 points per game – second-fewest in the NFL – despite playing three of its first four games on the road. The Jaguars are coming off a 23-20 loss to the New York Jets.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Point spread: Steelers -8.5 Date: Sunday, October 8, 1 p.m. ET Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Point Spread and Betting Analysis
The Steelers are getting plenty of points in this one – and past history between these teams suggests that might favor the Jaguars. The underdog has covered in eight of the previous nine meetings – and the only favorite cover in that stretch came in their last meeting in 2014, when Pittsburgh prevailed 17-9 as a six-point fave. Yet, despite this one-sided trend, the Steelers are a 60 percent choice to cover among Sports Interaction bettors.
The crowd is also leaning toward the over, with 71 percent leaning toward a total above 43 points. There’s plenty of reason to support this: the Jaguars average better than 27 points per game – fifth-most in the league – while the Steelers have scored 24 or more points in 12 of their last 13 games at Heinz Field, breaking the 30-point plateau eight times over that stretch. With Ben Roethlisberger and Blake Bortles expected to sling it, look for plenty of fireworks.
This could be a major “squeaky wheel” week for receiver Antonio Brown, who threw a tantrum on the sidelines during the Steelers’ 26-9 win over the Ravens in Week 4. Brown was taken to task by Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin after throwing a fit as part of a four-catch, 34-yard performance. But be wary of Brown as the focal point of the offense; the Steelers are just 2-4 straight-up since the start of 2015 when Brown racks up 100 or more receiving yards.
Jacksonville doesn’t generally follow bad games with good; it has covered just 19 times in the last 65 games after allowing more than 350 yards in its previous contest. That said, the Jaguars responded to a 37-16 thumping at the hands of the Tennessee Titans in Week 2 with a 44-7 drubbing of Baltimore the following week, so perhaps that trend is abating. A similar bounceback Sunday could be of value to bettors, who are getting +325 for a straight-up Jags victory.
Jaguars vs. Steelers Prediction
Steelers 27, Jaguars 21