Sunday, October 05, 2008

Jaguars: What are the Chances...?

For the second week in a row, the Steelers play a game in which it is especially difficult to predict the outcome. Both teams are considerably banged up; the Jaguars on their offensive line and secondary, the Steelers at running back and on the defensive line.

Ideally, the Steelers should go to a pass-heavy offense this week. After all, the Jags' strength on defense is defending the run, and the Steelers are so thin at RB that their regular third down back (Mewelde Moore) will be serving as feature back. The problem is that the Steelers' O-line can't pass protect, and could allow a plethora of sacks if Pittsburgh attempts 40-50 passes. With Ben Roethlisberger already nursing multiple injuries, a relatively conservative game plan - one that features lots of wide receiver screens, slants and draw plays - might be best.

On the other hand, leaving the game in the hands of the Steelers' defense might be problematic, because injuries on the defensive line leave Dick Lebeau's unit vulnerable to the Jags' running game. But one could also make the argument that the Steelers' D-line injuries are offset by the losses the Jags have suffered on their O-line. The bottom line is that this game figures to be very close, but being at home, the Jags have a distinct advantage. Never mind the fact that NFL teams have a woeful track record in road games immediately following home wins on Monday night.

That's why "What are the Chances...?" is predicting a narrow Steelers' loss, giving Pittsburgh a 45 percent chance of victory. If Big Ben is unable to play, the Steelers' chances of winning drop a little bit further, to around 35 percent.

In terms of predictions, The Steelyard is 3-1 this season and 29-8 all-time.

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8:11 AM  

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