The Steelers finally broke out of their “doing just enough to win” tendency last week in a blowout win against Cincinnati.
There were a lot of people out there who thought the lack of practice from Roethlisberger and the issues in the Steelers secondary would cost them. I expected the Steelers, with Ben, to win 27-17 and they exceeded that in a way we hoped for but didn’t anticipate.
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More on the Steelers victory last week against the Bengals
Had the Steelers not had Ben, I predicted this to be a trap game for Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger threw four touchdowns in the lopsided victory, while James Conner only managed a measly 36 yards on 13 carries (2.67 YPC). In a way, the lack of success running the ball was concerning, but the proficiency in the passing game was very promising.
James Conner had runs of 11 and 16 yards. That’s particularly fascinating because his other eleven carries went for a total of nine yards. Despite the clear mismatch with the Steelers rush offense against the Bengals rush defense, the Steelers weren’t able to get anything going on the ground.
The Steelers ran the ball 20 times for just 44 yards (2.2 YPC). It’s moderately alarming the Steelers were so ineffective on the ground, but as I stated earlier, the passing attack was impressive. The Steelers held the Bengals to 0-13 on third down attempts for the game. It was another tremendous performance from them in this one.
For the Steelers, this may be their peak passing game of the season. In four of their nine games this season, the Steelers have thrown for at least three touchdowns. It’s slowly becoming more clear the Steelers are leaning a little more on the passing game, and I think that’s their best path to success.
We know they like to keep things relatively balanced, but the Steelers have been stagnant in the run game for large portions of games this season. They’ve leaned on the short and intermediate passing game when games have been close, so at their core, this appears to be their identity.
The Steelers have perplexed us in many ways this season, but Week 10 was a breath of fresh air. With a comfortable victory against their division rivals, the Steelers enjoy a three-game lead over the Ravens and Browns in the AFC North.
Steelers vs Jaguars preview
The Jaguars have been a fun team this season. Granted, they’ve lost all but one game, but the Jaguars can be frisky. Over the past two weeks, the Jags have started Jake Luton at quarterback. Many believed it was a move that would seal their doom, but the Jags have now covered in back to back games.
Last week, the Jaguars led for an overwhelming portion of the game on the road against the Packers. Jake Luton has been alright starting in place of Minshew, so the Steelers had better be prepared to play on Sunday because the Jags haven’t thrown in the towel just yet.
The Jaguars are 25th in run defense and 30th in pass defense. Statistically, they’re just as bad defensively as the Bengals. Offensively, the Jags are a good running team who is capable of passing proficiently against poor secondaries. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Jags are a good 1-9 team, but they are better than their record indicates.
We thought the formula last week was to run and then pick the Bengals apart with play-action, but it simply wasn’t the case. The Steelers will continue to try to run the ball, but it’s likely not going to be the reason they win this game. The Jaguars don’t have much of a pass rush, nor do they have a secondary anywhere close to thwarting the Steelers’ talented receiving corps.
I expect the Steelers will run a balanced offense yet again, but find most of their success by way of the air. I see the Jaguars struggling to sustain drives in this game and subsequently digging a deeper hole as this game goes on.