NFL Predictions: Falcons Vs Steelers Betting Odds Preview

Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan and the Falcons are 2 point road favorites on the point spread against the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers begin the 2010 regular season at home on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to a four-game suspension for breaking the NFL’s personal conduct policy.  Second-year player Dennis Dixon will start in Roethlisberger’s place for the Steelers, who have not been home underdogs in the regular season since 2004.

The Falcons find themselves as 2-point road favorites on the current NFL betting odds thanks to Roethlisberger’s absence combined with the fact that Dixon has started only one game in his young NFL career.  You have to go all the way back to a game against Philadelphia back on November 7, 2004 to find the last time Pittsburgh was a home dog during the regular season.

Atlanta has high expectations this season after failing to make the playoffs last year.  Third-year quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons to the playoffs as a rookie but regressed a bit en route to a 9-7 record in 2009.  Ryan had to watch New Orleans not only capture the NFC South division crown but win more importantly win the Super Bowl, something he hopes to do this year.  He will be counting on running back Michael Turner to carry the load like he did two years ago when Turner ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards behind Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson and first in carries.  Turner was bothered by injuries last season but appears ready to rebound.

The Steelers face a tough early road without Roethlisberger and also wants to bounce back from a disappointing season after winning the Super Bowl the year before.  Like the Falcons, Pittsburgh also finished 9-7 but suffered through a difficult five-game losing streak following the team’s bye week that made a season-ending three-game winning streak rather meaningless.

With Dixon under center, the Steelers figure to concentrate more on grinding it out offensively with running back Rashard Mendenhall.  They ranked just 19th in the NFL a year ago with 112.1 rushing yards per game, something very uncharacteristic for a Pittsburgh team that has been known to pound the ball on the ground over the years.  The Steelers still ranked third defensively in run defense last season and will look to make Ryan throw the ball to beat them.

Atlanta’s defense was solid last year, tying Pittsburgh for 12th in the league in points allowed at 20.3 per game.  But the Falcons struggled defending the pass, giving up 242.1 yards per game.  That ranked 28th in the NFL and helped keep them from making the playoffs in back-to-back years.  Since the Steelers will not be too dangerous throwing the ball with Dixon, you can expect a battle on the line of scrimmage between these two teams with the better rushing attack likely prevailing.

Maddux is still looking at this game and possibly could release a premium play on the side of this game.  You can get on board for this winner by signing up for our NFL predictions package.  Winning plays from winning handicappers.

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