Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
The Jaguars lost last week in overtime to the Jets, but they were likely not 100% focused for the Jets the week after their London game, so it wasn’t that concerning of a performance. They’re still 2-2 and they’re still a capable opponent. Their passing game has major problems, given their situation at quarterback, in the receiving corps, and in pass protection, but they have one of the best defenses in the league and run the ball effectively, so they’ll be able to win some games without having to open up their passing game.
The Steelers are a tough opponent, so this is probably not one of those games, but the Jaguars can definitely make this a close game. They have the advantage on defense and they’re not a team that typically gets blown out, losing just 6 games by more than a touchdown over the past 2 seasons, despite going 3-13 in 2016. Just one of their last nine losses has come by more than 10 points. I have this line calculated at 6.5, so we’re getting a little bit of line value at 7.5. You could make a case that the Jaguars are the toughest team the Steelers have faced this season, as they’ve played the Browns, Bears, Ravens, and the Case Keenum led Vikings.
The Jaguars are also in a better spot than the Steelers, who have to turn around and play one of the tougher games of their season next week in Kansas City against the undefeated Chiefs, which could be a bit of a distraction for them as they prepare for the Jaguars this week. The Jaguars, meanwhile, will host the Rams in a non-conference game that probably isn’t much of a distraction. Underdogs typically cover before being favorites if their opponent will next be underdogs, going 60-38 ATS in that spot since 2014. The Steelers are only 2.5 point underdogs and the Jaguars are only 1 point favorites on the early line, but the reasoning makes sense regardless. There’s not quite enough here for me to be confident in the Jaguars, but I do see this being a close game.
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +7.5