Jacksonville entered 2018 with high expectations after a solid playoff run that ended against the eventual AFC Super Bowl representatives from New England.
When the team avenged that loss and found themselves sitting at 2-0, games like this against the perennial playoff contenders like the Steelers looked like they could be classic battles.
Unfortunately, Blake Bortles turned back into a pumpkin and the rest of the Jaguars team scurried away amid six losses and a resounding thud as Jacksonville landed in last place.
The return of injured Leonard Fournette offered some hope in Week 10. In fact, it looked like the Jaguars could pull out a victory until a late turnover snuffed out what could have been a game-winning drive against the Indianapolis Colts.
Instead, it is the Colts who will play for a chance to return to .500 and a mention in playoff conversations, while the Jaguars try to survive a date with the rolling Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh comes in with a little extra rest and an understandable amount of swagger. Their 52-21 demolition of a strong Panthers team in front of a national audience last Thursday erased the last notion of any letdown in their skills or competitiveness. Memories of their 1-2-1 start have faded to oblivion.
The official end of the Le’Veon Bell saga should relax any lingering tension in the locker room and assure James Conner an uninterrupted path to a Pro Bowl appearance unless the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl, a very possible scenario at this point.
Injuries and notes:
Pittsburgh reported no significant injuries and expect their full roster to suit up against the Jaguars.
Le’Veon Bell did not report or sign his contract tender, ending any chance of him returning to the team in 2018.
Jacksonville suffered a huge loss when center Brandon Linder went out with a knee injury. Linder will miss the rest of the season.
Cornerbacks AJ Bouye and Quinton Meeks are listed as questionable.
Doug Marrone is finding his second season at the helm to be considerably more difficult than last year’s playoff campaign.
Injuries to Leonard Fournette and several other players will get him off the hook for some of the teams’ performance, but better play from his quarterback would help, too.
Mike Tomlin continues to shine in Pittsburgh. Another Super Bowl run would be great, but he should already be included in any conversation about the greatest coaches in Steelers history.
How to watch the Jaguars-Steelers game
CBS Sports will produce and broadcast this contest across much of the country. That means DirecTV Now will send the game to your favorite internet connected device in real time if you are one of the smart American NFL fans who subscribe to the leading internet television provider.
DirecTV Now is a division of the big satellite company, but unlike its big brother, DirecTV Now does not require any burdensome equipment or make you sign a ridiculous contract.
DirecTV Now, like Fubo TV and Sling, provide live stream NFL action from all the NFL-contracted networks, as well as dozens of other movie and entertainment channels as part of their low-cost monthly subscription packages.
Take advantage of a trial offer from DirecTV Now, Sling, or Fubo TV to watch the Jaguars-Steelers game for free. After the game, flip through the channels to see what else these great internet TV providers offer.
You’ll understand why so many fellow Americans have cut the cord with cable and satellite companies to join the internet TV revolution.
Who will win the Jaguars-Steeler game?
Jacksonville’s heartbreaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts will be tough to get over. The loss of center Brandon Linder will be even tougher. Unless Bortles can turn his game around, it won’t matter if Fournette is healthy or not.
Pittsburgh is a team on a mission, led by a quarterback on a mission, and aided by a running back on a mission. There is a chance the offense will let down now that they know Bell isn’t loitering in the wings.
But I doubt it.
Final score: Steelers 38, Jaguars 20