NFL Preseason Schedule 2011: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers

Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
Saturday, 8/27/11, 7:30 PM EST
Opening Point Spread:  Pittsburgh -4.5
Current Betting Line:  Pittsburgh -3
Opening Total:  36
Current Total:  35.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Steelers Panthers NFL Preview
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won all six previous meetings with the Atlanta Falcons during the preseason

Atlanta has come away with an 0-2 NFL preseason record through the first two weeks and now will be looking to avenge a season-opening loss that it suffered in Week 1 of the 2010 campaign.  The Falcons failed as one-point road favorites in that contest, unable to come away with a victory despite the Steelers playing without starting quarterback Ben Roehtlisberger due to suspension.  It won’t come easy Saturday night due to the squad’s 0-6 mark versus Pittsburgh during the preseason.  The last such meeting came in 2001, a 17-16 defeat.  Atlanta is 3-1 ATS as an underdog during exhibition action.

The Falcons will be hard-pressed to get a running game going against a defensive unit that allowed a league-best 62.8 yards per game last season.  Atlanta has been unable to get starting running back Michael Turner going in the opening two weeks, as he’s averaging just 3.2 yards a carry.  It’s still possible when finding that the vaunted Steelers’ stop unit is allowing 119 yards a contest thus far in exhibition play.  “It really is nice to have a good physical test like this,” said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.  “It’s going to get us right for when we gear up and go in September.”  The former Boston College star is 13 for 25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns in the first two preseason games.

Pittsburgh got back to playing its kind of football in a 24-14 home win over the Philadelphia Eagles as three-point favorites last week and head coach Mike Tomlin knows the bar has been raised in the Steel City with Super Bowl appearances in two of the last three years.  The Steelers have gone without implementing a game plan in the first two weeks, but that will not be the case Saturday.  “The situational element of this game will be an interesting one,” Tomlin commented.  “I imagine both teams will prepare situationally, be it third-down, red-zone or goal-line.”  Pittsburgh is 2-0 ATS versus NFC South division opponents in the preseason over the last three years.

The Steelers are starting to get up their in age and will be looking to prove their critics wrong after playing more games than any team the past three years.  Pittsburgh has the oldest defense in the NFL and the offense is ranked No. 13.  As far as playing time in Week 3 this week, the coaching staff has stated that starters will play at least the first half.  One storyline that has emerged from camp this week and may show up more in the final two preseason games is the no-huddle offense.  Roethlisberger has been dynamite during his career in running the two-minute offense and the Falcons should be prepared for it.

Bettors will likely back the Falcons due to their 5-1 ATS mark on the road under head coach Mike Smith, while the Steelers are just 3-3 when playing with eight days of rest during preseason action.

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