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Pregame Report: Can the Steelers Rebound?

Atlanta Falcons @ Pittsburgh Steelers

1:00pm ET @ Heinz Field, Pittsburgh PA

Projected Score: Steelers: 31  Falcons: 30

Game Lines: Steelers (-3) / O/U 58.0 

TV Broadcast:

Broadcast on FOX will begin at 1pm with Chris Myers (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst) and Laura Okmin (sideline) on the call.

Radio Broadcast:

Steelers Radio Network- Game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET. Calling the game will be Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Tunch Ilkin (color analyst) and Craig Wolfley (sideline).

All fans in the Pittsburgh area can listen locally on WDVE 102.5 FM & WBGG 970 AM.

 

Injury Report:

S Morgan Burnett (Groin) – Doubtful

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Ankle) – Doubtful

LB Vince Williams (Hamstring) – Doubtful

 

What to Watch for:

1.Inside Linebackers

The Steelers will more than likely be without ILB Vince Williams leaving Jon Bostic beside a combination of Tyler Matakevich, LJ Fort and Matthew Thomas. Steelers defense has struggled mightily to begin the season thus making Williams absence even more concerning. The Falcons RB Devonta Freeman will return from injury after missing the last 4 games. In those games the Falcons had scored 30+ points in 3 of them. Linebackers will be frequently asked to cover receivers meaning the defense will face a very tough task slowing down this Atlanta offense.

2. Ben Roethlisberger’s Connection with Antonio Brown

To begin the season Big Ben has struggled to get AB the ball down field. Brown was asked about those struggles this week, which he replied to by saying “its like wi-fi, sometimes its good, sometimes it’s not but always connected.” OC Randy Fitchner said Thursday, “there’s great communication amongst them … we are just going to stay the course” He also said, “You probably saw a lot of balls go his way. Not that they aren’t doing anything normal. Usually, a lot of balls go his way. A lot of balls are going his way now, but we haven’t hooked up, but I think they are coming.” This is encouraging to hear, the offense is at its best when the ball gets in AB’s hands.

3. James Conner

Conner began the season with a bang but has since completely cooled off. In the last 3 games the Steelers have run the ball 46 times for only 130 yards (2.82 ypc). Over the last few years they have run the ball at a much higher level which translated to  wins because of their ability to  control the clock.

According to Aditi Kinkhabwala, since 2013 (start of the Ben, Brown, Bell era), the Steelers are 37-4-1 (.893 pct) when they run the ball 40.0+% of the time. They’re 17-25 (.405 pct) when they run the ball less than 40% of the time. But in the last three weeks, the Steelers are 76.5% pass play, 23.5% run play. The team will need to run the ball to have any sort of success this season, if it doesn’t happen soon it may be time to admit they need Le’Veon Bell.

Keys to Victory

  1. Avoid a slow start on Defense
  2. Run the ball effectively and open up the pass
  3. Limit 3 and Outs
  4. Keep Julio Jones in check
  5. Put pressure on Matt Ryan

 

Gambling Advice

Betting market: 

During the early stages of the week, this game resembled a juicy juice factory. Odds makers were scared to allow bettors to take the Falcons plus the hook, as the Steelers line was (and still is at some books) up to -3 (-130), which is higher than we generally see juice reach (you can find updated odds here).

Alas, the Steelers were finally pushed up to -3.5 at BookMaker, Heritage and other shops. They’ve gotten 56% of bets and 70% of spread dollars thus far, but if a wave of sharp action comes in on the Falcons at this new number, we could definitely see a move back into juice-land. — Mark Gallant

Trends to know:

At 58, many bettors may be wary of taking the over in the Falcons-Steelers game.

In Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the over has been a very profitable trend when he plays at home, but the better angle may be the first half over.

In Roethlisberger’s career, the over is 61-47-3 (56.5%), making him the third-most profitable quarterback to the over in that span behind Drew Brees and Tom Brady, according to our Bet Labs data.

In the first half, the over is 54-40-7 (57.4%) when Big Ben starts at home, the second-most profitable home quarterback behind Brett Favre over that span.

On top of that, when the full-game total is 50 or more, the first half over is 6-1-1 at home for Roethlisberger, too. — Evan Abrams

 

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