HEAD TO HEAD

 

Each day this week, the Times-Union will examine a key match-up in the Jaguars’ AFC playoff game at Pittsburgh on Sunday:

JAGUARS WR ALLEN HURNS VS. STEELERS CB MIKE HILTON

Why it’s important: The Jaguars need to get more production from the receiver position after Hurns, Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole were shut out in last week’s win over Buffalo (one target apiece). Hurns is expected to line up in the slot when the Jaguars use three receivers and Hilton is the Steelers’ nickel cornerback.

Why Pittsburgh could have the edge: Hilton, who was an undrafted free agent in the Jaguars’ 2016 training camp, has carved out a terrific niche with the Steelers. He played 58.8 percent of the defensive snaps, was tied for fourth on the team with 54 tackles and had four sacks and two interceptions. Hilton uses his size (5-9/184) and athleticism to get around the corner and pressure the quarterback on blitzes.

Why the Jaguars could have the edge: Last week, Hurns went without a catch for only the second time in his 53-game career (regular season and playoffs). If Hilton blitzes, Hurns is more than savvy enough to be quarterback Blake Bortles’ hot read. If Hilton stays in coverage, Hurns knows how to beat man coverage on quick-developing routes.

Advantage: Jaguars. Sunday will be Hurns’ third game back after missing six weeks with a high ankle sprain so he should be back at top form. Against the league’s best pass-rushing team (56 sacks), quick throws to Hurns could have big profits.

Ryan O’Halloran/Times-Union