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Jaguars vs Steelers: Staff roundtable and full Week 8 picks

Our staff previews Jacksonville’s upcoming game at Pittsburgh and predicts each Week 8 winner.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for each NFL game.

The Jaguars are favored by 2.5 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 8, according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

If you had a magic wand and could heal any injured Jaguars player to 100% health for this week only, who would you choose?

Dillon Appleman: It’s got to be Zay Jones here. Not just because he and Trevor Lawrence have such a great feel for each other’s game, but also because if I see Jamal Agnew get force-fed any more targets, I will positively expire.

Caitlin Connor: If I had a magic wand, I would heal Zay Jones. Although the offense has been playing more in sync, his presence has definitely been missed.

Jefferson Gibson: If I had the magic wand to heal one Jaguars player, it would be safety Andre Cisco. He is finally having that breakout season in his third year in the league and has been an absolute ball hawk. You could see late in that Saints game when Cisco went down with an injury that, while Wingard is a great special teamer and a big moral guy, there was a clear drop-off in play.

Joseph Henry: It’s pretty easy to see how much more effective the Jaguars passing attack can be when Zay Jones is in on the field. I think his absence last week is a large part of why Calvin Ridley was basically nullified from the game. Jones is a threat to all levels of an opposing defense, and when he’s active it takes away the other team’s ability to give more attention to certain weapons. Plus, I think the drop-off from him to Jamal Agnew as a receiver is noticeably significant.

Travis Holmes: Interestingly, there’s a chance I may end up getting my magic wish granted this week, as I would go with Jaguars interior defensive lineman DaVon Hamilton for this week. The Steelers’ offense runs through its running game and an efficient, play-action passing game. Hamilton’s return could positively impact both of those areas in favor of the Jags.

Gus Logue: Tyson Campbell. He matches up extremely well with George Pickens, who is probably the only player on Pittsburgh’s offense capable of taking over a game. I think Darious Williams can hold up in coverage against Pickens but I can’t say the same about any other Jaguars corners.

Adam Snowden: While a healthy Tyson Campbell is a key cog in the secondary, Walker Little is equally (if not more) essential to the offensive line. Considering the inconsistency of that unit and the dominance of the Steelers’ pass rush, a healthy Little could be a massive game-changer.

Henry Zimmer: If I could heal one player, it would be Walker Little. The Jaguars’ offensive line continues to improve each and every week, but having Little back can only help the team, especially considering the two defenses coming up in the next two games. Good offensive lines win games nowadays, and Little can/will be a key to that moving forward.

Which Steelers duo scares you more, T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith or Diontae Johnson and George Pickens?

Dillon: The latter would mean I’m also scared of Kenny Pickett, which I’m not, so I’m going with the edge duo. Robinson isn’t the most graceful when it comes to bendy speed rushers, so Highsmith is a tough matchup for him on Sunday. On the other side, I’m excited to see Anton Harrison against a player of T.J. Watt’s caliber. The rook seems to be getting better every week, so I look forward to seeing how he handles a future Hall of Famer.

Caitlin: T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith scare me more. Hopefully the offense line can protect Lawrence like they did during the Saints game, and keep Watt and Highsmith’s impact to a minimum.

Jefferson: Definitely the linebacking duo of Watt and Highsmith in my eyes. T.J. Watt is arguably the best defensive player in the league and has been for a long time. While the Jaguars offensive line is getting better, the injuries and inconsistencies keep me up at night. Lawrence needs to stay healthy and Etienne needs to run the ball well to win on Sunday, and if Watt and Highsmith are frequently in the backfield, it will be a long day for this offense.

Joseph: You had me at T.J. Watt (no disrespect to Highsmith). Any offense’s need to give Watt so much attention is what makes these two such an effective duo. We’ve seen this season how Watt can singlehandedly win games for the Steelers. He’s in an elite tier of game wreckers and is the best defensive player Jacksonville has faced this season.

Travis: I would probably lean toward T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, and it isn’t particularly close. While the Jaguars’ defense to date has only had one “bad” game (Houston), the offense has had many games with major scoring and protection opportunities in 2023. Over the past 7 weeks, both Chris Jones and DeForest Buckner have produced enough support on tape to prove this offense will only succeed or struggle based on an improved play by this offensive line.

Gus: The linebackers are definitely the scarier duo in general, but this week against the Jaguars, I think the receivers could be a bigger factor. Lawrence should continue to get rid of the ball quickly, which won’t completely mitigate Pittsburgh’s pass rush, but should quiet it enough. Pickens and Johnson should have more success (especially if Campbell doesn’t suit up).

Adam: Watt and Highsmith, and it’s not particularly close. Not to hammer the same point every week, but offensive line has repeatedly been the weakest position group on the Jaguars’ roster (pass-rush is a not-so-distant second), and until they can consistently prove otherwise, they are my greatest concern going into every game. I had sufficient confidence in the line to fend off the solid-but-not-elite Colts or Saints defensive lines, but T.J. Watt is likely the best pass rusher the Jags’ line has faced all season. He is a game-wrecker and can single-handedly change the outcome of games. Protecting Lawrence will be absolutely vital for the offense’s success on Sunday.

Henry: Watt and Highsmith scare me far more than anyone on the Steelers’ offense, which is tied for 26th in the league in points per game (17.2). Watt is already a Hall of Fame caliber talent, and trying to take him away just gives more room for Highsmith to work. Watt practically beat the Ravens in Week 5 by himself.

Final score prediction?

Dillon: Jaguars 27, Steelers 19

Caitlin: Jaguars 31, Steelers 21

Jefferson: Jaguars 24, Steelers 17

Joseph: Jaguars 27, Steelers 13

Travis: Jaguars 25, Steelers 17

Gus: Jaguars 34, Steelers 10

Adam: Steelers 27, Jaguars 24

Henry: Jaguars 24, Steelers 17

Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.

What are your Week 8 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!