Date: December 9th, 2007
Time: 12:00 p.m. Central
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Records: Jaguars (9-4) , Steelers (9-4)
Weather: 29 degrees, 40% Chance of Snow, wind W, 11 mph
Radio: 106.5 WOKV
Steelers Coverage: Behind the Steel Curtain
The Weather: It's going to be cold, windy, and snowy. Normally, this is where people say all sorts of unflattering things about Florida teams being poor performers in cold weather, but we know better. We know, for example, that Jacksonville is perfectly capable of winning the physical battle to dominate the line of scrimmage and run between the tackles for positive yards in nasty conditions. We know that our receivers can take control of the game in short (5-15 yard) routes in what should be a very un-explosive game. Some teams thrive in conditions like this, for Jacksonville, the physical style and attitude of Jack Del Rio will reflect in their performance:
The Stakes: Jacksonville starts the process of clinching a playoff spot today, if the Titans lose to the Chiefs, we are a lock for post-season play. More importantly, we would eliminate the importance of beating the Texans on the last day of the season. From there, it's merely jockeying for the 5th or 6th seed to see where we play, either San Diego, Cleveland or Pittsburgh. If the Steelers win, Jacksonville has to wait another week, and win out to ensure the best playoff position. So don't forget to root for the Chiefs while you're watching the Jaguars play.
The Injuries: I tried all week to convince myself that Big Ben was too injured to play. He practiced on Friday and is ruled "Questionable" for the game. That means, theoretically, that he's a 50/50 chance to play. It's been reported, however, that Roethlisberger struggled in practice. The Florida Times Union reports:
Pittsburgh television station KDKA (www.kdka.com) in Pittsburgh posted footage of Roethlisberger throwing during individual drills. He appeared to be favoring his right shoulder and throwing with a semi-sidearm motion.
Also listed as questionable for the Jaguars are Safety Reggie Nelson and DE Jeremy Mincey. Nelson is probably not quite used to playing his 14th game of the season, preseason excluded. It's certainly not the 10 game college season that he's used to playing. I imagine he'll play though, just a hunch.
Three Keys to Victory:
- Execute the Running Game: It's simple really, make your blocks, ensure that the handoff goes smoothly, and hold onto the ball. This is a game where 3 and a half yards a carry is all you need to win the game. No need to risk the ball or anything fancy, just make the blocks and push forward. Remember, the Steelers lost a fantastic Defensive End in Aaron Smith, I'd run hard at the right side.
- Make a big play on special teams: Again, simple stuff. Jacksonville has had one of the best coverage teams in the league, in a game where field position is going to be a huge factor, this is a big advantage. Conversely, with the amount of punts that are going to happen, this would be a great week for some good returns by Northcutt. He's had a good one the last two weeks, taking one to the house against the Steelers could make every dollar of that 3 million dollar signing bonus worth every penny.
- Score Points: Simple right? Every time we get into the red zone we must leave with points. Hopefully 7. Jacksonville has had to settle a few times for field goals where we could of had touchdowns. Against the Steelers, we need to rack up the points and put them in an uncomfortable place of playing from behind in bad weather.
I'll be back before game-time!