The Steelers host Jacksonville next Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET in what promises to be a physical divisional-round matchup.
Reasons to be excited: The Steelers are one of the hottest teams in football and believe they can beat anyone. After a slow start to the season on offense, Pittsburgh is averaging 31.2 points per game over the past seven weeks behind the "Killer B's" of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. The Steelers' defense is mostly healthy and ranks fifth in total defense, setting a franchise record with a league-high 56 sacks. The Steelers have voiced Super Bowl aspirations since May and now have a divisional-round home game in which to capitalize.
Reasons to be concerned: Linebacker Ryan Shazier's spinal injury in Week 13 leaves the Steelers without one of their most prolific playmakers and forces the defense into platoon duty at inside linebacker. The defensive backfield has given up 10 passes of 40 or more yards over the past eight games against a mostly unimpressive group of quarterbacks. The Steelers failed to score more than 23 points in seven of their eight road games. Hitting at least that number will be required to win in Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game.
What’s next: The Steelers have to like what they saw from Jacksonville in the wild-card round: namely, cold offense. Blake Bortles' 12 of 23 passing for 87 yards against Buffalo reminds Pittsburgh of the mediocre quarterback play that it faced for much of the season. Most attention will be paid to Leonard Fournette, who pumped 181 yards and two touchdowns on Pittsburgh in that early-October matchup. Jacksonville's defense might be the game's best and gave Roethlisberger fits on his way to five interceptions. Big Ben is a different quarterback right now, however, averaging 325.5 yards per game with 16 total touchdowns since Week 11.