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2007 Season NFL Football Past Picks

January 05, 2008

05

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh

Saturday 01/05 08:00 PM Eastern

3 units on Game Total UNDER 41 -110 (risk 3 to return 3)  RESULT: LOSS

Since this NFL playoff format began in 1994, it is rare to see a home divisional winner squaring off with a visting Wildcard team with a better record. The last time it occured was a game involving this same Jacksonville squad in 2005 going to New England with a 12-4 record, and getting trounced 28-3. That was a team that won their last three games to finish 8-1. Tennessee brought a good 12-4 team to Baltimore in 2003 that won their last three games, finished 9-2, and won 20-17. The only other time was a 10-6 Indianapolis team losing to the Jets in 2002 by the score of 41-0. We can see this game going either way (might be some value on the Pitt moneyline), but what we do have is perhaps the top two defensive units in the game. With stepped up playoff intensity, we look for a defensive battle in this one. The Steelers have been great defensively, allowing an NFL fewest 266 yards per game and an NFL second best 16.8 ppg. They are ranked 3rd against both the run and the pass. Jacksonville has been equally impressive. If you throw out the 42 points in the season's finale against Houston where everyone sat out, the Jags have allowed 17 points or less in 10 of the 15 other games. Both of these teams allow a QB rating of just 74. What does a 74 mean? To put that in perspective, that means the defenses have held the offenses to a QB rating equal to Kyle Boller (75.2) or Brian Greise (75.6)! The Steelers won the Superbowl a couple years ago, but have not hosted a playoff game since 2004. They are getting dissed here by the oddsmakers and TV talking heads who all love Jacksonville. Expect the Steelers defense to be fired up with a chip on their shoulder and for the noise level to be energizing to an already great defense. The Jags have never been good as a road favorite (6-13 ATS last 19) and the Pittsburgh defense rises to the challenge as a dog, as they have played 8-1 to the UNDER last nine in that role. We look for a defensive dominated game, and an UNDER here.


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