The Jaguars are the kind of team that in recent years would have been almost expertly engineered to lose to the Steelers. An offense that needs the run game to thrive to have any chance. A quarterback not necessarily bad, but at least too inexperienced to exploit the holes in LeBeau's scheme that only Brady, Rodgers and maybe Brees have been able to with any consistency.
Despite last week's improved effort, the Steelers defense still hasn't shown that its run defense is quite at the level where you can essentially write off a one-dimensional offense that depends on the run. Chris Johnson only finished with 51 yards, but looked good early and would have had more yards if the Titans hadn't fallen so far behind. It's true that the run defense got better against him after the first drive, but I'm still not at the point where I can say that the run defense is just yet near where it's been. Maybe this week I'll be able to say that if MJD is shut down and the Jags forced to put it in the air despite the fact that they're starting Blaine Gabbert.
Rashard Mendenhall is apparently starting Sunday, which I'm not totally wild about. Not that I think Mendy is slipping and that Redman and Dwyer have really earned any claim to stealing carries, but there always the concern with rushing back hamstring injuries. Of course, that concern was swirling around Arian Foster the other week and he proceeded to torch the Steelers on the ground, so take from that what you will.
There's been a pretty big dichotomy between the Steelers at home and on the road so far this season. Perhaps that's because both of the Steelers home games in 2011 have followed pretty embarrassing losses and the team is more motivated and focused, or simply that the Steelers are a far better home team this season for whatever reason. Too early to say, obviously. But if the Steelers struggle against the hapless Jaguars, the answer is obviously closer to the former.