Things are so good with the Pittsburgh Steelers right now that a little bit of a “dispute” between the head coach and quarterback doesn’t appear to throw things off.
When someone asked Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin about his undefeated Steelers playing a team that has lost eight straight games in Jacksonville, Tomlin was curt in his response. “We are not a Big Ten team playing a MAC opponent this week," Tomlin told a media conference call.
That may not have sat well with Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh quarterback and Miami (Ohio) alum. “I have to figure out what conference William and Mary is in,” Roethlisberger joked, referring to Tomlin’s alma mater.
But this is what life is like for Pittsburgh right now, where everything is just fine. They head to TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville to face the Jaguars, who haven’t won since Opening Day, on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS).
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The sports betting information
On FOXBet.com Sportsbook, the Steelers are listed as 10 point favorites over the Jaguars as of Thursday afternoon. On the money line, Cleveland is -450 (a $450 bet would pay $100) while Jacksonville is +360 (a $100 bet would pay off with a $360 win.) The over/under total on this game over 46 ½ points.
One set of numbers to keep in mind: While Jacksonville is 1-8 overall, they are 4-5 against the spread – a respectable record for a team that has talent deficiencies. The Steelers are 7-2 against the number.
The Jaguars have a 14-12 advantage in the series, including 2-0 in playoff contests with the latest coming in 2017 when the Jags advanced to the AFC Championship game. The Steelers did win the last game between the two, eking out a 20-16 win over the Jags in Jacksonville in Nov. 2018.
The storylines to watch
What is there really to say about the Steelers that hasn’t been said to this point? The Pittsburgh defense was dominant last week in a 36-10 thrashing of the Bengals that had rookie quarterback Joe Burrow reeling. Roethlisberger threw for four touchdowns and 333 yards despite not practicing at all due to COVID-19 protocols. Chase Claypool had two touchdown catches while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson each catching one from Roethlisberger.
The Jaguars did give a scare to the Packers in Lambeau before losing 24-20. Jake Luton continues at quarterback for Jacksonville, but the Jags have another weapon to watch in James Robinson at running back. The last three weeks, Robinson has run for at least 99 yards and touched the ball at least 22 times. Against the Pittsburgh defense, however, finding room to operate could be tough. The Steelers allow only 106 yards a game on the ground.
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