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Team Comparisons: Steelers vs Falcons (Week 15)















ben-roethlisberger-extends-play Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan
After another great performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, Ben Roethlisberger looks to be on top of his game.  In one of his better statistical seasons, Roethlisberger continues to buy time and give his receivers the time they need to get open.  After correcting throwing mechanics, Roethlisberger has been sharp and is strong enough to avoid Atlanta’s defensive front as long as his offensive line does their job. Matt Ryan is a solid quarterback who has orchestrated some great games, especially at the Georgia Dome.  An accurate passer, Ryan excels at putting the ball in the position his receivers need.  Ryan may be the leader of a team with a losing record, but he can be dangerous with good field awareness and a quick release. 
Pittsburgh Steelers offense Julio Jones and Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons
Steelers Offense
Falcons Offense
Le’Veon Bell is having a Walter Payton kind of season.  Give credit to David DeCastro and the offensive line for providing an improved blocking scheme.  Much of the success of the Steelers offense will fall on the offensive line against the Falcons.  Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton are all viable targets for Roethlisberger. Tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are significant contributors. If the offense can get off to a quick start against Atlanta, they simply need to keep stacking plays.  Improvement in the red zone may be key to winning in week 15.  Turnovers will kill the offense. Despite an injury to his hip, Julio Jones will be suited up at wide receiver for the Falcons if there is even a slight chance he is ready on Sunday.  Jones is one of the most dangerously explosive wide receivers in the league, but he hasn’t been consistent week-in and week-out.  Roddy White continues to be a valuable possession receiver.  Steven Jackson has put together some good games, but overall he’s headed towards the end of his career as a running back and Jaquizz Rodgers is always a question mark in this offense.
Steelers Defense
Falcons Defense
Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Atlanta Falcons 2014 Defensive Line
Without Ike Taylor at cornerback, Antwon Blake will likely be called on to put together another solid performance this week.  The Steelers defense has not been consistent, but they’ve been competitive.  Arthur Moats has emerged as a strong linebacker and will likely team up with Lawrence Timmons to put big hits on Atlanta’s offense.  The turnover ratio needs to swing in Pittsburgh’s favor.  Stephon Tuitt and Jarvis Jones are expected to put in a hard-fought game of their own.  The most worrisome aspect is the safety position.  While Troy Polamalu continues to play hard, he has lost a step and Mike Mitchell blew assignments and had to have help when the Bengals made big plays downfield.  This could prove problematic if Matt Ryan is able to get hot reads on his receivers. The Falcons’ defense has seen its fair share of being pushed around all season and it starts with their front seven.  Although Jonathan Babineaux and Paul Worrilow have big-tackle capabilities, their inability as a defense to pressure opposing quarterbacks has exposed them.  The Falcons are ranked 31st in yards allowed this season.  That isn’t to say that Atlanta has no skills, but the defense as a unit has not been solid in 2014.  Where they have excelled is in turnover ratio (+5).  They will be looking for easy picks and opportunities to strip unprotected footballs to flip the field.
Steelers Special Teams Falcons Special Teams
Kicker Shaun Suisham and Punter Brad Wing Pittsburgh Steelers Falcons KR Devin Hester
If Antonio Brown or Markus Wheaton are able to get hot in the return game, the Falcons may have a problem.  That hasn’t happened for the Steelers this season.  Brad Wing continues to improve, but hasn’t been a consistent threat to opponents.  Placekicker Shaun Suisham continues to play at a high level.  The Steelers’ coverage team can’t afford to allow Devin Hester to break a long return.  They have struggled at times as a unit to secure good field position in their favor. The Falcons have one of the most dependable placekicker in the league in Matt Bryan.  Punter Matt Bosher has a strong leg and the ability to pin opponents deep.  Although Devin Hester has had flashy moments in the return game, he’s not as quick as he was earlier in his career.  The Falcons coverage team is average.
Steelers Summary Falcons Summary
Pittsburgh has their eyes on a win, but it will take a full team effort, similar to their wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals, to do so.  The Steelers will need to get on the board early and put together offensive series’ that matter.  They can’t rely on Suisham’s leg to win it for them.  If the are reactive instead of pro-active on defense, they could get burned. The Georgia Dome loves the Atlanta Falcons, and the Falcons love home-field advantage.  The Falcons have been more competitive at home defending their own turf, but with so many inconsistent games this season, they will have their hands full.  It will be a hard-fought game but the Falcons seem to have too many intangibles at this point to be favored.
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