2010 NFL Season Week 1 Preview: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers

Charles HoweCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2010

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 22:  Ward Hines #86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs away from DeAngelo Hall #21 and Chris Crocker #25 of the Atlanta Falcons on October 22, 2006 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons will travel to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. The absence of Ben Roethlisberger from the Steelers starting line-up will not do any favors for Pittsburgh.

Michael Turner of the Falcons has proven himself to be an elite fantasy running back. However, do not look for him to have a huge game. The Steelers allowed less than 90 yards per game on the ground last season and opponents only scored seven rushing touchdowns all season long.

Pittsburgh’s pass defense didn’t fare as well last season, particularly in the fourth quarter. However, Troy Polamalu is healthy and Matt Ryan had a less than stellar preseason. Points are going to be at a premium for the Falcons.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, points may be at a premium for an offense led by Dennis Dixon too. Luckily for Dixon, the Atlanta Falcons were ranked 28th against the pass last year and gave up 25 touchdowns through the air.

Equally fortuitous for Pittsburgh is that Atlanta allowed 10 rushing touchdowns on the season and over 100 rushing yards per game.  Maurkice Pouncey has taken over starting center duties which should help the Steelers’ efforts on the ground. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for over 1,100 yards last season even without Pouncey’s upgrade along the offensive line.

There is no question that the Steelers defense will keep the score manageable. However, the game is going to be won or lost while Pittsburgh’s offensive unit is on the field. One has to believe that a Steelers team led by Ben Roethlisberger would find a way to win this game. Hopefully, Dennis Dixon can find similar success.

Sunday will be a tough test for Dixon. But even without Roethlisberger, the Falcons are only favored by between one and 2.5 points depending on the casino.

Expect a low-scoring defensive battle. This type of game usually favors Pittsburgh. However, we’ll have to wait until Sunday afternoon to see if Dixon and the Steelers can pull it out.


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