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fordfixer
09-12-2010, 12:33 AM
Week 1 matchup: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers

SportingNews Sep 10, 2:13 pm EDT
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=A ... tsn-167191 (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=Atmyaan_VmCKA6mkrVCivKpDubYF?slug=tsn-167191)

Week 1 matchup: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers

Three story lines:

1. Big Ben bounced. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) begins the first game of his four-game suspension, and the Steelers will try to use their running game and defense to offset his loss. However, his scheduled replacement, Byron Leftwich(notes), injured his knee and won't play for at least two weeks. Instead, the Steelers will start third-year guy Dennis Dixon(notes).

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2. Turn-ing the corner. Falcons running back Michael Turner(notes), who rushed for 1,699 yards in the '08 season, will try to become a dominant figure in the offense after an injury-plagued season in '09. But on Sunday, he will face one of the NFL's top run defenses.

3. Disappointing D. The Steelers' defense was fifth in the NFL last season, but its surprising failure to prevent big pass plays and protect fourth-quarter leads probably were the biggest reasons for missing the playoffs. The return of five-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu(notes) to good health should help.

Three key Falcons

QB Matt Ryan(notes). This is Ryan's third season, and it's time to take the shackles off his passing arm. The Falcons have a solid running game to take the pressure off Ryan, but he has the receivers to become a more dominant factor in the offense. The way to beat the Steelers is throw the ball and supplement the run.

OLB Sean Weatherspoon(notes). The rookie started all four preseason games and will start Sunday at Pittsburgh, but is he ready for the assignment? The Steelers liked Weatherspoon enough to consider taking him in the first round just ahead of Atlanta (instead, Pittsburgh took center Maurkice Pouncey(notes)), but he doesn't make enough plays behind the line of scrimmage. Weatherspoon must be ready for the Steelers' counter plays, the bread and butter of their offense.

CB Dunta Robinson(notes). He was the Falcons' main offseason acquisition in free agency, but he didn't play at all in the preseason because of a hamstring injury. He has been practicing for a couple weeks, though. The Falcons must be aware of the deep speed of Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace(notes), who replaces Santonio Holmes(notes) as the team's split end and big-play receiver.

Three key Steelers

QB Dennis Dixon. Just like if it were Leftwich or Charlie Batch(notes) under center, Dixon's primary job will be to limit mistakes and eliminate turnovers. He must connect on high-percentage passes and not force the ball into coverage. At times, he also must use his legs to make plays when no receiver is open.

RB Rashard Mendenhall(notes). After a season in which he rushed for 1,108 yards, Mendenhall is expected to be even more of a workhorse this season because the team hopes to cut down on the number of pass attempts, especially in Roethlisberger's absence.

CB Ike Taylor(notes). He will be matched against Atlanta big-play wide receiver Roddy White(notes), and it will be his job to take away the deep pass.

Bottom line

The Steelers have been preparing all offseason for the loss of Roethlisberger, hoping their running game and defense can carry the load during his absence. The defense must play better than it did in 2009 and, in particular, the secondary will have to prevent Ryan from making big plays to White and Tony Gonzalez(notes). If they can do that, they should be able to control the Falcons' running game well enough to not have to play catch-up. Steelers, 23-17.

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-12-2010, 12:39 AM
I predict Ike makes a pic tomorrow!

Captain Lemming
09-12-2010, 12:55 AM
I predict Ike makes a pic tomorrow!

Did you see him with one of these:

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTm2UX32EV_hzenpBfZanlnCx_LFLm5Q S96tMkuLaiW_mQAm6Y&t=1&usg=__OsWK4QbffgIE6pbeV_D0o1whrMg=

Because I know when you say "pic" and Ike in the same sentence you do NOT mean interceptions. :lol: