Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) -2 , o/u 37 at Atlanta Falcons (3-2), 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday
by Predictem.com Staff

The Pittsburgh Steelers look to continue their comeback from a three-game losing streak when they travel south to take on the Atlanta Falcons in an interesting inter-conference encounter Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.

Pittsburgh beat the Miami Dolphins in the season opener, then lost three games in a row to Jacksonville, Cincinnati and San Diego (three pretty good teams). The Steelers then destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs last week 45-7 as 6 -point home favorites, outrushing K.C. 218-39.

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, whos had his problems so far this season, had his best game of the year last week, going 16/19, albeit against a shaky Chiefs defense.

Atlanta opened this season with a win at Carolina, then beat Tampa Bay at home. The Falcons then got swamped at New Orleans on a Monday night, but bounced back to defeat Arizona 32-10 as seven-point home chalk two weeks ago. And last week Atlanta led the New York Giants 14-3 in the 3rd quarter as 3-point home favorites. But N.Y. dominated the game from that point and went on to a 27-14 win.

The Falcons ran for 223 yards vs. the Giants, and had TD runs of 22 and 90 yards. But the Atlanta defense allowed N.Y. to run for 259 yards on 38 carries, and the Giants defense was credited with seven sacks of QB Michael Vick.

Pittsburgh sits in 3rd place in the AFC North, a game and a half behind the division-leading Baltimore Ravens.

The Falcons occupy 3rd place in the NFC South, a game and a half back of the division-leading New Orleans Saints.

The Steelers are 2-3 against the spread this season, and 0-2 both straight up and ATS on the road.

Atlanta is 3-2 vs. the number this season, and 2-1 both SU and ATS at home.

On the season, Roethlisberger has completed 60% of his passes but owns a 3/8 TD/INT ratio and a 62.6 QB rating. The Steelers do, however, rank 6th in the NFL with a 42% 3rd-down conversion rate.

Its the same old story with Vick; yeah, hes exciting to watch, and a fantastic talent. But his 52% completion rate and 69.2 QB rating contributes greatly to the Falcons 31% 3rd-down conversion rate, which ranks 5th-worst in the league.

The Atlanta running game ranks #1 in the NFL, averaging an amazing 232 yards per game. But the Falcon air attack ranks dead last in the league at 114 YPG.

Pittsburgh is outrushing its opponents by a 125-78 per game average.

These two teams havent met since that memorable 34-34 tie at Heinz Field four years ago in a game that saw the teams combine for over 1,100 yards of offense.

This is Atlantas third consecutive home game.

Despite the slow start and three-game losing streak, the Steelers cannot be discounted. Remember, Pittsburgh struggled through most of last season, and almost missed the playoffs. They then, of course, went on to win three straight road playoff games and the Super Bowl.

Atlanta ranks 10th in the league with a 31:01 time-of-possession advantage; the Steelers rank 14th at 30:30.

Both teams are a bit banged up at this point in the season, but who isnt. Handicappers might want to keep an eye on the status of Pittsburgh LB Joey Porter and Atlanta DEs John Abraham and Patrick Kerney. Also, the Falcons will be without staring OG Matt Lehr, who was suspended for four games earlier this week.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rank the Steelers 9th at 24.0, Atlanta 11th at 22.7.

The O/U is 3-2 in Pittsburgh games this season, 1-3-1 in Falcons games. Atlanta has scored a total of 51 points in their four games against teams other than Arizona.

This season, 34 teams have won three key categories, rushing yards, turnovers and time-of-possession, in the boxscores in a particular game. Those teams are 31-3 straight up and 29-5 against the spread. Atlanta has done this three times this season, and the Steelers have done it twice.

This game opened on the betting boards with the Steelers as three-point road favorites and a total of 38.