FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1 THE HEALTH OF ANTONIO BROWN: The great Steelers WR vs. Jacksonville’s tremendous cornerback duo of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye would be the hands-down key matchup for this game, if it were certain Brown will play. He hasn’t suited up since Dec. 17 after tearing his right calf. Teammates said he dazzled in practice this week. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported there “is every expectation” Brown will play and “be in full form.” But Brown was sent home ill Friday, to quarantine him from other players, coach Mike Tomlin said. On Saturday reports said Brown had the stomach flu but would take part in usual walk-throughs and team activities. His availability and effectiveness for Sunday remains unknown. WILL BIG BEN TAKE SACKS, RATHER THAN THROW PICKS? Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a couple of seasons had shown a disturbing propensity to throw too many risky passes. Almost as bad as an end-of-career Brett Favre. But Big Benhas cleaned that up over the past three months. He will be pressured by the Jaguars, and often. Sometimes he must just take the sack. CAN BLAKE BORTLES COMPLETE SIMPLE PASSES? Don’t snicker. By the second half against Buffalo, he was struggling big-time. Simple screens, dumpoffs and crossers — kept missing ’em. Everyone knows Bortles has it in him to get hot. Can he? JACKSONVILLE SWAGGER: These Jaguars do not lack for confidence. “The moment I got here from the Texans, what I noticed about the vibe in the locker room was this, like, supreme confidence,” Eli Ankou, the rookie defensive lineman from Ottawa, told Postmedia. “Players trust in the amount of work they put in. They trust each other.” CAN JAGS BOTTLE UP LE’VEON BELL AGAIN? You have to think no team can do it twice in the same season if he’s healthy. Bell had only 47 rushing yards last time they met.
Le’Veon Bell struggled the previous time he played against Jacksonville. Jags QB Blake Bortles (5) missed many of his receivers last week against Buffalo.