Atlanta @ Pittsburgh (+2½)
With Ben Roethlisberger suspended for four games and Byron Leftwich injured, quarterbacking duties in Pittsburgh fall to Dennis Dixon. With Roethlisberger relegated to an onlooker for four games, he's offered his assistance to Dixon in any way necessary to prepare the former Oregon star for this crucial four-game stretch.
"We didn't expect to have to call on Dennis so early," Mike Tomlin said. "But with Leftwich's knee injury and Ben's conduct issues, I guess you could say we made a 'knee-jerk' reaction."
"Dennis has shown a great willingness to learn, although he balked at a cram session with Ben in a locked bathroom."
The Falcons are primed to challenge the favored Saints for the NFC South crown, led by Matt Ryan's strong right arm, Michael Turner's powerful thighs, Tony Gonzalez's supple hands, and the gray-haired leadership of Mike Smith, a man with a name so generic, he was "Common" long before Lonnie Rashied Lynn, Jr. (no relation to Loretta) wisely adopted a stage name and became "Common," the rapper.
"I 'un-Common-ed' myself long ago," Smith said. "I've moved on. Just call me 'Whitebread.' The name may be bland, but the Falcons are anything but. And unless there's a law against being incredibly polite, Matt Ryan won't be serving a four-game suspension. Matt's still a captain, unlike Roethlisberger, who lost the title of 'captain' due to his 'privates.'"
Dixon runs the Falcons ragged, running for 1 score and passing for another.
Pittsburgh win, 24-20.