The Pittsburgh Steelers are winning games but still don’t have the kind of explosion on offense that they showed at times last season, and certain players are getting frustrated. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will try to get on the same page when the Steelers host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Pittsburgh earned a 26-9 win at rival Baltimore last week but spent most of their time during the week answering questions about Brown’s tantrum on the sideline after Roethlisberger did not throw him the ball on a play in the second quarter. “AB is the best receiver in the world, maybe one of the best to ever play the game,” Roethlisberger told 93.7 on his weekly radio show. “I’d like to think him and I together may be one of the best quarterback-wide receiver combos to ever play the game. I don’t know he needs to react that way. He’s superhuman on the football field, and when that happens, it almost brings him back to being a mere mortal, if you will. Because it gets in his head and it just messes with all of us a little bit. ... I‘m not trying to call AB out. I just think this is causing a distraction that none of us really need.” The Jaguars are trying to find some consistency after following up an impressive 44-7 win over the Ravens in London in Week 3 with a 23-20 overtime loss at the Jets. “Absolutely making progress,” linebacker Paul Posluszny told ESPN.com. “You can just feel the attitude of the team, the feel of the team, the entire culture that’s been established. We’re definitely heading in the right direction. Now, we want to be better.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -8. O/U: 42.5
ABOUT THE JAGUARS (2-2): Quarterback Blake Bortles exemplifies Jacksonville’s inconsistency with five touchdown passes and no interceptions in two wins but two scoring passes and three picks in two losses. The 25-year-old completed just 15-of-35 passes in the 23-20 overtime loss at the Jets in Week 4 while posting a 52.1 rating, down from 128.2 in the London thumping of Baltimore. Bortles and the Jaguars have been leaning heavily on rookie running back Leonard Fournette, who is third in the NFL with 81 rushing attempts but is questionable this week with an ankle injury.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (3-1): Pittsburgh running back Le‘Veon Bell leads the NFL with 87 rushing attempts and finally had a breakout game last week after a slow start, rumbling for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. The Steelers defense did not take as long to get in gear as the offense, and defensive end Cam Heyward was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery at Baltimore. Heyward’s unit is second in the NFL in total defense, surrendering an average of 267 yards.
1. Brown finished with a season-low four catches last week and has one touchdown reception on the season.
2. Jacksonville WR Marqise Lee (ribs), who is second on the team with 159 receiving yards, was held out of practice on Wednesday and is questionable.
3. Pittsburgh LB Ryan Shazier (shoulder) was limited in practice this week and is questionable.
PREDICTION: Steelers 31, Jaguars 17