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Jaguars vs. Steelers Betting Preview

Crunch the numbers and get a daily fix of sports trends and information with up-to-date betting lines that promise to keep both the sports betting enthusiast and the novice alike, in the game. Get the latest odds, picks and analysis from BetUS.com resident handicappers and industry insiders. With so much insight and amazing daily betting tips, sports betting enthusiasts are sure to get the winning edge.

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NFL Football Betting AFC Playoffs - Jaguars at Steelers

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BetUS NFL football betting odds: JACKSONVILLE -2.5, Total: 39.5

NOTABLE STAT: Jacksonville gained 224 rushing yards the last time it played Pittsburgh

KEY NFL FOOTBALL BETTING TREND: Jacksonville has covered seven of its last eight games

Two teams who appear to be going in different directions take the field on Saturday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh when Mike Tomlin's struggling Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6 SU, 8-8 ATS) play host to the surging Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5 SU & ATS) in AFC wildcard action kicking off at 8 PM ET and televised by NBC.

In the BetUS NFL betting odds, the Jaguars are listed at -2.5, with the total posted at 39.5 points.

Here are some of the NFL betting trends and stats relative to this matchup:

* JAX has covered seven of its last eight games

* JAX has won six of its last eight games SU

* JAX has covered six of its last eight road games

* JAX has played ten straight games OVER the total

* PITT has covered two of its last eight games

* PITT has won 14 of its last 21 games SU

* PITT has covered eight of its last 12 home games

* PITT won seven of its eight home games SU this season

* PITT has played 17 of its last 25 home games OVER the total

* JAX has covered the last five meetings

* JAX has won eight of the last 12 meetings SU

* JAX has won and covered four of the last five meetings as the road team

It can be safely said that Jacksonville is a team that is coming on very strong, and at the right time of the year. If we throw out the season finale, a 42-28 loss at Houston (and we should), we're looking at six wins and seven covers in a seven-game period. Pittsburgh had won all seven of its home games, and covered five of them, yielding only nine points a game, that is until Jacksonville came to town and shattered all of that with a 29-22 win just three weeks ago.

It was devastating for the Steelers because they gave up 224 rushing yards, including 147 by Fred Taylor, and were outgained 421-217. They experienced exactly what Jack Del Rio had built this Jaguar team for - late-season, bad weather football, which often happens when you have to play into the Super Bowl. The Jags run the ball well (149 yards/game) and in the passing game they make few mistakes, with David Garrard throwing just three interceptions all year. This is precisely what Del Rio wants to accomplish.

On top of all this, Willie Parker (1316 yards), who supplied Pittsburgh with an explosive running attack, is out for the year, having broken his leg. The Steelers may thus find themselves more dependent on the arm of Ben Roethlisberger, who did a good job cutting down on his interceptions this season (11, compared to 23 last year), but was sacked 47 times, indicating he does sometimes wait too long in making decisions. It won't appear to help that Pittsburgh will be starting a third-team left tackle, Trai Essex, because of injuries to Marvel Smith and Max Starks. Defensive end Aaron Smith is also out. Pittsburgh lost three of its last four games, two of them to teams they will almost certainly have to topple to make a return trip to the Super Bowl (Jacksonville and New England).

Before we accompany the Jaguars arm-in-arm to their next playoff destination, however, let's take a look at the case that can be made for the other side.

First of all, it needs to be pointed out that while Roethlisberger (65%, 32 TD's, 3154 yards) has led the Steelers to the playoffs and the Super Bowl title in his brief career, this will be Garrard's first playoff start, and on the road no less. As wide as the gap was between these teams yardage-wise in the last meeting, Pittsburgh was still tied with the Jags at 22 until Garrard led a fourth-quarter drive to win it. Remember also that the Steelers were just coming off a loss to the undefeated Patriots, who everyone was gunning for.

Najeh Davenport, who will be in the backfield in place of Parker, ran for 499 yards and 4.7 yards a carry this season, so while he's not the guy to break long runs, he isn't a stiff. The defense misses Aaron Smith, as mentioned, but still has stars in James Harrison, James Farrior and Troy Polamalu. Meanwhile, Jacksonville is not without some injury concerns of their own; they'll be without defensive stalwarts Marcus Stroud and Mike Peterson.

The Jags have rather non-threatening receivers, while Pittsburgh has the emerging Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller, along with Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, giving them an edge in the passing game.

In a 29-year period of the wildcard round, only ten times has a team been a home underdog. And those teams have covered eight of ten during that time. You could do a lot worse for a home dog than a team that has won seven of its eight home games, allowing just 12 ppg and 219 yards a contest, possesses a Pro Bowl quarterback, has a kicker (Jeff Reed) who has hit 13 of 14 field goals in a very difficult place to kick, and is just a year removed from a Super Bowl title. Hey - and let's not forget that as well as Taylor and the Jags did in the earlier meeting, the Steelers have still allowed just 90 yards a game on the ground and one 100-yard rusher in the last 31 home games.

Remember this as well - no visiting team has ever come to Pittsburgh and won twice in the same season.

Finally, I see that the whole world, including the media, has left Pittsburgh for dead and is piling on the Jacksonville side, prompting this game to be bet up to 2.5 and maybe even higher before all is said and done. That's always a sign of trouble, because the general public and the media have both been known to back what seems patently obvious. Handicapping football games does not involve observing what is patently obvious, but what others may not be considering. The public supplies the value for the handicapper. We may not prove to be right on this one (and we're tackling the total at TotalActionExtra), but we have a few factors on our side and we'll grab points with the 2.5-point dog in the BetUS NFL betting odds, expecting an inspired effort from the Steelers, who will not go down easy.

JAY'S PLAY: PITTSBURGH

The 2007 NFL betting season is here in full force! If you like to bet on the NFL, you are in the best possible place for online betting. The BetUS sportsbook has NFL odds up on a ton of futures, and you will also find NFL lines up for early games as well. Join BetUS today and we'll help guide you right through to Super Bowl XLII and beyond!

Posted on 1/4/2008 3:47:12 PM
NFL Football Betting AFC Playoffs - Jaguars at Steelers
By Charles Jay




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