Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview: Must-Win at Home


UPDATE: Both Julio Jones and William Moore are OUT for the game against Pittsburgh.

After dropping a game on Monday night to the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons are now tied with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South and have a crucial game with the Pittsburgh Steelers looming. Just a half-game behind the Bengals in the AFC North, the Steelers are looking for the playoffs as well, and with both teams claiming elite wide receivers, this game should be extremely interesting.

Let’s jump into it.

Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

Time/TV: 1:00 pm ET, CBS

Falcons Offense vs. Steelers Defense

After Julio Jones put up his massive, record-breaking game against the Packers earlier this week, he’s the obvious starting point in this section.

But not necessarily to talk about how much damage he can do to Pittsburgh’s secondary–Jones might not even play in this one. After coming out with a hip injury during the second half of the Packers game, it’s still not clear if Jones is going to be cleared for Sunday’s matchup. Obviously having Jones in the game would be big, he’s leading the NFL in receiving yards and the past two games has played like the top target man in the league.

The Steelers defense comes in at No. 23 in passing yards allowed this season. They’re giving up 248.5 yards per game through the air, but not having to worry about Jones would obviously make life easier for them.

Conversely (as is usually the case with the Steelers) their run defense has been much better, as the team allows just 123.8 yards on the ground per game–good for No. 8 in the league.

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Falcons Defense vs. Steelers Offense

On the other side of the ball, Ben Roethlisberger boasts a weapon that has been just as good as Matt Ryan‘s: Antonio Brown.

Brown comes in at second in the NFL in receiving yards behind Jones, and has at least five catches and 50 receiving yards since the start of last season. That’s about as consistent as you could hope to be in the league. To complicate matters for Atlanta’s secondary, William Moore‘s availability is also uncertain as he deals with a foot issue.

Where these two teams differ though, is the run game. Pittsburgh actually has one.

Le’Veon Bell has been excellent for Pittsburgh this season and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry while managing 1,231 total yards so far and five touchdowns. Bell’s performance has helped the Steelers become the No. 8 rushing offense in the league.


With Pittsburgh’s ability to throw and run the ball at such impressive rates, the pressure falls again on the Ryan and the Atlanta offense. If the team is going to take this one, it’ll likely have to be in a shootout–surprise, surprise right?

Stay tuned for post-game coverage, and a live game thread that will post on Sunday morning. In addition, be sure to follow ATL All Day for the latest on the Atlanta Falcons.