Friday Beer Run: Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Jan 03, 2008



We break down each match-up this week with the additional vigor of keg-pressing Bavarian strong man, using our Quality Stats to determine who really has those little advantages that help win football games in January and February. And keep in mind that our Quality Wins Quotient alone is better than Vegas itself at identifying postseason winners.
 
Also see:
 
 
 
 
 
 
SATURDAY, 8 p.m. EST
JACKSONVILLE at PITTSBURGH
Jacksonville Jaguars
Teams
Pittsburgh Steelers
11-5
Overall Record
10-6
4-3
3-2
+0.3 PPG
+4.8 PPG
+7.3 (6)
+6.8 (7)
16.52 YPPA (8)
15.84 YPPA (12)
13.91 YPPS (8)
13.33 YPPS (5)
5.67 (1t)
13.33 (14t)
14.33 (12t)
19.33 (21)
6.66 (8)
6.28 (14)
76.1 (7)
76.5 (9)
+18 (5t)
+10 (7)
13.8 (9)
17.6 (20)
-1.5
Line
+1.5
39.5
Over/Under
39.5
 
Vs. Quality Opponents
Pittsburgh was better against Quality Opponents in 2007, with a slightly higher winning percentage (.600 to .571) and a noticably stronger advantage in scoring differenntial (+4.8 PPG to +0.3 PPG). Pittsburgh averaged 24.2 PPG in quality games to Jacksonville's 21.0.
 
Advantage: Slight edge to Pittsburgh.
 
Relativity:
Jacksonville is one spot ahead of Pittsburgh on the Relativity Index. They were +7.3 PPG better than the average performance of their opponents, while Pittsburgh was +6.8. The Steelers were 5.2 PPG better than average defensively, best in the league, while Jacksonville was 5.2 PPG better than average offensively (No. 4 in the NFL).
 
Advantage: none
 
Pittsburgh's offense vs. Jacksonville's defense:
The Steelers have taken a lot of heat for their offensive line, and the Jags are known for their great defensive lines. But in truth, both have been average – Pittsburgh's Offensive Hogs rank a mere 14th while Jacksonville's Defensive Hogs stand at 12th. Pittsburgh's offense that ranks No. 14 in Passing Yards Per Attempt will be tested by the Jacksonville defense which stands at No. 7 in Defensive Passer Rating. The Steelers are highly efficient scoring points (5th in Scoreability) but are matched by an efficient Jaguars defense which stands at 8th in Bendability.
 
Advantage: none
 
Jacksonville's offense vs. Pittsburgh's defense: 
There's a reason why the Jaguars ran all over Pittsburgh in their Dec. 16 meeting at Heinz Field (42 rushes for 224 yards and 5.3 YPA), a 29-22 Jacksonville victory. And that reason presents the single biggest mismatch of this game: Jacksonville's No. 1 (tied with New England) Offensive Hogs vs. Pittsburgh's No. 20 Defensive Hogs. 
 
Advantage: Edge to Jacksonville
 
Special teams
Pittsburgh's special teams are a sore subject with the Heinz Field faithful, but the Steelers are actually a respectable No. 20 on our Special Teams Index. Jacksonville is 9th overall, a ranking based on being average but not spectacular in all five Special Teams categories. Pittsburgh's FG kicking and punting are in the top 10, but both return units are subpar.
 
Advantage: Slight edge to Jacksonville
 
Big Plays
Pittsburgh was solid on the Big Play Index (+10). But Jacksonville finished at +18, and in the top five in both Big Plays generated and Big Plays allowed.
 
Advantage: Edge to Jacksonville
 
Significant injuries: 
The loss of RB Willie Parker is obviously significant, as fill-in Najeh Davenport has never had to carry a full load. T Marvel Smith and DE Aaron Smith also joined the late season injury rolls, so the Steelers are definitely not taking the same team on the field Saturday that amassed the majority of their Quality Stats. Oh, and Troy Polamalu is doubtful.
 
Jacksonville lost DT Marcus Stroud late in the season, and MLB Mike Peterson is also out, two big hits to the middle of the Jaguar defense.
 
Advantage: Edge to Jacksonville
 
Weather:
According to the Weather Channel, it's likely the temps will be below freezing and there's a slight chance of some snow/rain/sleet/hail. But the last time these two met, on Dec. 16, it was snowing, and proved no detriment to the warm-weather Jaguars.
 
What does a monkey think? 
Our beloved Bonzo the Idiot Monkey was a prognosticating genius this regular season, using his patented coin-flip method to beat the experts from CBS Sports.com and finish at 146-109 overall.
 
Bonzo's coin likes ... Pittsburgh (+1.5)
 
Summary
Going against the monkey again, almost every sign points to Jacksonville in this one.
 
The final score: Jacksonville 24, Pittsburgh 20

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