The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a matchup of scrappy playoff hopefuls. The Steelers have been impossible to figure out this season. One week, they look like a mess, like they did in a loss to the floundering New Orleans Saints. The next, they are crushing the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, vaulting themselves into prime playoff position. Then there are the Falcons, who are 5-8 and somehow winning the NFC South.
Pittsburgh sits 8-5 and would be the No. 5 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today. The Steelers have a tough remaining schedule with the Falcons on the road, followed by home games against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bengals. Oddly enough, Pittsburgh has a 5-2 record against teams above .500 but has struggled to keep its edge against lesser squads.
Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are leading the charge for the Steelers. Roethlisberger is having one of the best seasons of his 11-year career. Roethlisberger has thrown for 4,055 yards, second in the league to Andrew Luck. Of those yards, Brown has recorded 1,375 receiving while Bell has 693, with the two combining for 19 total touchdowns. Bell also has 1,231 rushing yards, trailing only DeMarco Murray in the race for NFL the rushing title.
Atlanta has been a horror show defensively all season, but has enough offense to stay competitive. The Falcons rank last against the pass with 287.8 yards allowed per game and are just 21st against the run (122.9/game). Overall, Atlanta has the worst defense in the NFL and features little pass rush with only 15 sacks so far this season.
Offensively, the Falcons boast a potent aerial attack led by the incomparable Julio Jones. Jones has been virtually unstoppable the last two weeks, torching the Arizona Cardinals for 189 receiving yards before going off on the Green Bay Packers for 259. Jones leads the NFL in receiving with 1,428 yards while Matt Ryan checks in at fifth in passing yardage with 3,802.
How to Watch
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
When: 1 p.m. ET
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
The Steelers are slight 1.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 51, according to OddsShark.
For more on the Steelers, check out Behind the Steel Curtain.
To keep up on the Falcons, head over to The Falcoholic.