Sports

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Three things to watch in Jaguars-Steelers

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Three things to watch in Jaguars-Steelers

This season had the makings to be Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's swan song in the NFL. Jacksonville had at least 135 yards rushing per game in eight straight games from September 24 through November 9, including a season-high 231 in a 30-9 victory over the Steelers on October 8 at Heinz Field. The Saints-Vikings game also features a high total of 46.5 points and, despite how well the Vikings defense has played this season, offers possibly the best game stack of the slate. A couple more? Or could it be as little as one more game?

By now you know stacking is a key strategy in all daily fantasy sports. I'm hoping it's not his last.

Roethlisberger has played in 20 playoff games, while the Jags' win last week vs. Buffalo was Bortles first playoff appearance. Bortles says there are people that think LeBron James isn't very good so he's there will be a lot of people that feel that way about him. "I don't think it is my last". I am not thinking about that. "I'm going out to play this one and give it everything I have". It started last week when Roethlisberger said in an interview that he wanted to play the Jaguars. Last week, Tyreek Hill was having an early field day against the Titans, and if it wasn't for a few drops and Andy Reid, he could have had a full-on eruption game.

Roethlisberger has turned it around since then, helping lead the Steelers to a 10-1 record the rest of the regular season. For the first time, the Steelers expect to have a healthy dose of Roethlisberger, Bell and receiver - known as the Killer B's - for the entirety of the playoffs. He has not toned down his tough-as-a-linebacker playing style.

Yet Pittsburgh's offense will only go as far over the next month as Roethlisberger can take it. His teammate, A.J. Bouye, is dynamic as well.

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"I always see him coming to work the same way", Marrone said. Pittsburgh was held to just three field goals. This game is such a violent, physical game. "If we're able to make a run in the playoffs, especially going against some of the game's best quarterbacks and show dominance on our side of the ball, they got to put us up there with the great defenses". It will be interesting if Roethlisberger's thoughts on retirement continue this offseason whether the team invests in another draft pick. "Once you start thinking about retirement - if the fire isn't there, if the passion isn't there, it's so hard". "I know what I do and what I bring to the table". It won't be easy, but if you do all or most of that, you'll likely win. You're way down the road. "But do you pay someone $19 million to see if he can fix that?" And while that was their only recent meeting, it should be noted that the Jags beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the 2007 playoffs. The quarterback wasn't much better against Pittsburgh when he completed eight of 14 passes for 95 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. If it was not or tipped and dropped balls he would have had much better statistics against Jacksonville in that first game. "A lot depends on him and how he looks".

Ramsey will shadow Antonio Brown, widely considered the best receiver in the NFL. Whether he will be as effective as usual remains to be seen.

"They've put together a really good young team there", said a front office executive with another National Football League franchise, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to give a frank opinion of another team's roster. But that's not the main issue now.

The Jaguars come into the game as the AFC South champions at 10-6 and are the No. 4 seed in the conference. "It wasn't a fake spike", Roethlisberger said. If Pittsburgh loses, like the Seahawks, I think a fair criticism is, the team has underachieved again. "That's all you've got to do". "So I'm sure everybody's excited".


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