Predicted Score: Jaguars 24, Steelers 21
Jacksonville: The Jags come into the playoffs on a roll winning six of their last eight, which includes a meaningless loss to Houston Week 17. During that span, David Garrard has tossed 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions… his only three INTs of the year. Garrard (102.2) finished the season with the third highest QB rating behind Brady (117.2) and Roethlisberger (104.1). Fred Taylor has pitched in five straight 100-yd rushing games as the Jacksonville offense has proven they can compete against the AFC elite, including the number one ranked defense in the league. However, the solid Steelers run defense hasn't been so solid in recent weeks allowing an average of 104 yards per game in its final four contests, not to mention Fred Taylor scorched them for 147 yards on 25 carries just a month ago. I don't expect this to be easy but Jacksonville hasn't lost anything since their Week 15 victory over the Steelers, Pittsburgh has lost the heart and soul of their running game.
- Start: QB David Garrard, RB Fred Taylor, RB Maurice Jones-Drew
- Consider: Jaguars D/ST, K Josh Scobee
- Sit: WR Dennis Northcutt, WR Ernest Wilford, TE Marcedes Lewis WR Matt Jones
Pittsburgh: The Steelers are champions of the AFC North, seeded higher than Jacksonville, playing at home, but remain an underdog to the Jaguars according the general public. Perhaps it's the fact that Jacksonville beat Pittsburgh just four weeks ago at Henz Field (the only Steelers' loss at home this season) or perhaps it's the fact that Willie Parker is lost for the season with a knee injury, meaning Najeh Davenport will carry the rushing load. Or perhaps it's the fact that Jacksonville is a better team… any of these factors are reason enough to favor the Jaguars but combining them all makes you wonder why Pittsburgh is only getting one point (+1).
- Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Willie Parker, WR Hines Ward, WR Santonio Holmes, TE Heath Miller
- Consider: Steelers D/ST, K Jeff Reed
- Sit: WR Cedrick Wilson, WR Nate Washington