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Columnist Maxwell Lee’s Pick for Tonights Steelers-Jags Game

Since I started writing predictions for this site two weeks ago, I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to pick against my hometown team. I feel like, being the eternal optimist, it’s a welcome challenge for me to put away my favoritism and really examine my realistic expectations week-to-week. So finally we have a division-leader coming to town with a lot to play for, and I have my chance to go against Jacksonville without causing too much stir.

The Jaguars were lucky to squeak by an over matched opponent at home last week. The secondary, which had been struggling already, will be without starters S Reggie Nelson and CB Drayton Florence. And the visiting Steelers will have revenge on their mind. They lost at home to the Jaguars twice last season, the first time any team had beaten them in Pittsburgh twice in one year. They have the better record and one would think they are due for a win to end this 4-game losing streak against Jacksonville.

But the truth is, I just can’t do it. Not this week, not this game. Much has been made of the Steelers’ injury woes and short week, and I do in fact believe that these will be the overriding factors on Sunday night. Jacksonville’s offense and defense are ready to break out, and this could be the game where they get it done on both sides of the ball. Gregg Williams will throw the kitchen sink at Big Ben, and the stud Steelers quarterback will battle admirably in a losing effort.

The home crowd will be rocking for the primetime national TV audience, and no matter how hard I try, I just don’t believe the Jaguars will let this opportunity slip away. The glass is half-full once more as Jacksonville takes this one comfortably…comfortably meaning not on a last-second field goal.

Jaguars – 27, Steelers – 21

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