This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Falcons and Steelers in their week five match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Atlanta Falcons 1-3 at Pittsburgh Steelers 1-2-1
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 1pm Eastern, Sunday October 7th, 2018
Weather: Sunny and 80
Line: Steelers -1.5
Last Week: The Falcons dropped another shootout this time to Cincinnati 39-38 in Atlanta. The Steelers rallied to tie the game at 14 at the half but were outscored 12-0 in their 26-14 loss to Baltimore.
TV: FOX Chris Meyers and Daryl Johnston
TV Coverage in Your Area: Visit the506.com
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: John Parry
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: S Morgan Burnett (Groin) – Doubtful
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Ankle) – Doubtful, LB Vince Williams (Hamstring) – Doubtful ATL: DE Derrick Shelby (Groin) – Out, CB Justin Bethal (Knee) – Out, DT Grady Jarrett (Ankle/Knee) – Out
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 8th, ATL 9th Passing Offense: PIT 4th, ATL 7th Rushing Offense: PIT 29th, ATL 21st
Total Defense: PIT 28th, ATL 26th Passing Defense: PIT 27th, ATL 23rd Rushing Defense: PIT 20th, ATL 24th
AFC North Rankings: Cincinnati 3-1, Baltimore 3-1, Cleveland 1-2-1, Pittsburgh 1-2-1
This Week: Miami at Cincinnati, Baltimore at Cleveland
What You Need to Know: The Steelers have never lost to the Falcons at home… Mike Tomlin is 30-13 all-time in the month of October… With a win Ben Roethlisberger would earn his 75th career win at Heinz Field… Antonio Brown needs one touchdown to tie John Stallworth for the third most receiving TDs in team history.
What’s at Stake: Neither team can afford a loss. It’s that simple because their respective divisions are headed by teams who are threatening to run away and hide.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 13-2-1 and they are 6-0-1 in Pittsburgh.
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Tommy Maddox 473 yards 11/10/2002, Falcons Steve Bartkowski 416 yards 11/15/1981 RUSHING: Steelers Franco Harris 141 10/28/1974, Falcons Warrick Dunn 129 11/10/2002 RECEIVING: Steelers Plaxico Burress 253 11/10/2002, Falcons Terance Mathis 166 10/25/1999
Last Meeting: December 14th, 2014 in Atlanta. Steelers 27 Falcons 20
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
No More Excuses. The Steelers’ defense has to either put up or shut up and it starts this week. I don’t want to see or hear anything more about communication problems or blown coverages. It’s week five for crying out loud. I have no problem with a guy getting beat, that happens, but the constant scene of defensive backs and linebackers running around like their hair is on fire has gone far enough.
Run to Pass. The Steelers do not have to run 30 times on Sunday. That’d be nice and would probably signal that they are winning but they have to efficiently and effectively enough to keep the Falcons’ defense honest. When Ben Roethlisberger has an opportunity to use play-action it makes a massive difference in him finding open receivers. Again, I’m not suggesting that Randy Fichtner tries to turn James Conner into Jerome Bettis. But getting four yards a crack when the Steelers do run the ball is crucial for passing success and keeping Big Ben on his feet too.
Discipline and Management. Mike Tomlin told us on Tuesday that he and the team changed up their usual routine on Monday to discuss the first quarter of the season. Things addressed specifically in that meeting we don’t know but it was painfully obvious that Tomlin stressed “cleaning things up.” Penalties are never good and never happen at the right time but his team seems to always commit stupid penalties that help change field position. If you’re playing an offense that already scores 30 points per game the last thing you want to do is shorten the field for them. The Steelers have to show more discipline and at the same time Tomlin has to prove he can manage the problems that are plaguing his team.
Predictions: Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, points to a shootout. The Falcons’ secondary is a mess and they’re without their best interior lineman Grady Jarrett. The problem for the Steelers is that both Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley will be coming from the edges. On the flip side, I don’t need to go into the Steelers’ issues on defense. Falcons 34 Steelers 30
Season Prediction Record: 2-2