Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Two Top Matchups To Watch


The Pittsburgh Steelers head down to Atlanta this Sunday to play another probable playoff contender. It’s the final non-conference game for both teams before they close-out the season with critical conference match-ups.

The 8-5 Steelers must win this roadie before their final two divisional home games. The 5-8 Falcons could possibly lose one more and still win the NFC South with nine losses.

What the Falcons record doesn’t show is how well the Falcons offense has played in recent weeks. Led by quarterback Matt Ryan and receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Harry Douglas, the Falcons are averaging 292 passing yards per game.

The Steelers are one of the few offenses averaging more passing yards per game (312-ypg). And with both teams struggling in the secondary, this could be one of the highest scoring games of the week.


Matt Ryan and his dangerous receivers have kept the Falcons in the playoff picture. They nearly upset the Green Bay Packers last week and beat the top-seeded Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago.

Julio Jones had 259-yards and 189-yards in the two game stretch and is now the NFL’s leading receiver ahead of Antonio Brown. His size and speed makes him the one of top deep-ball threats in the NFL. The Steelers were crushed last week by A.J. Green.

The only thing that could stop Jones from having another big week is a hip injury he suffered late against the Packers. If he can’t go, Jones would get one more week to recuperate before their final divisional match-ups. It’s also a possibility the Falcons could win without him.

Safeties Mike Mitchell and Troy Polamalu and the rest of the Steelers secondary has been very generous to opposing offenses this season. They are one of the few safety tandems without an interception this season. The Steelers have given up pass plays of 60+ yards four times in their last six game.

And with or without Jones, the Falcons will throw it deep.  The shifty Douglas went over 100-yards against the Cardinals and former Pro Bowler Roddy White is also healthy and back in the line-up.

The Baltimore Ravens used their pass rush to beat the Falcons and shut down Matt Ryan in Week 7. Polamalu and Mitchell may need a little help from their friends upfront or the Steelers playoff hopes will vanish.


Wingman had a quietly impressive game last week. He kept the Steelers out-of-trouble against one of the best punt return teams in the league in Cincinnati — even nailing a 74-yard punt.  He has been a solid addition to the Steelers.

Considering his competition, Wing has actually been the best punter the Steelers  have had in many years. This week he faces the best punt returner ever in Devin Hester.

The Falcons have the highest punt return yard average in the NFL and Hester has returned one for a TD this season. The ghosts of Steelers past has included some infamous punt return gaffes and the Steelers cannot give up an easy TD this week.

Wing must protect the coverage teams without giving Ryan a short field. Of course, limiting the number of times Wing has to punt by scoring touchdowns would be a smart course of action.


These two teams have had some epic AFC-NFC battles. The last three match-ups have ended in overtime with wins by both teams and one game which ended in a tie.

A steady dose of Le’Veon Bell to limit Ryan’s opportunities and controlling the line on defense would give the Steelers another win in their battle for the AFC North.

Ryan has thrown 11 interceptions this season. Polamalu and Mitchell would love it if he sent one their way on Sunday.