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Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Picks


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The Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers are all set to kick off their 2010 seasons this Sunday. Despite 9-7 campaigns, neither the Falcons nor the Steelers advanced to the playoffs in 2009. However, both teams are considered strong playoff contenders in 2010.

While Pittsburgh is typically a solid home team (6-2 at home in 2009), NFL odds makers have listed the Steelers as a 2.5-point underdog with the total set at 37.5 this week. This, of course, has everything to do with the absences of Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich.

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Roethlisberger will miss the first four games of the season as he serves a suspension for breaking the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Leftwich was supposed to take over the starting job in Big Ben’s absence, but he went down with a left knee injury in Pittsburgh’s preseason finale. Now, the Steelers will go to battle with Dennis Dixon in the opener.

In order to take the pressure off of Dixon, we anticipate that Pittsburgh will look to keep the ball on the ground with running back Rashard Mendenhall. He is expected to be Pittsburgh’s workhorse after racking up 1,108 yards on 4.6 yards per carry in 2009.

While Pittsburgh figures to throw the football more when Roethlisberger returns, the running game is still very important in the fourth quarter when it would like to run out the clock. The Steelers know this all to well as they blew five fourth quarter leads that resulted in losses last season.

In order for the running game to flourish, the offensive line must be better. Pittsburgh is hoping that the addition of Maurkice Pouncey, who has been very impressive, will go a long way toward improving the unit.

When healthy, Pittsburgh still has one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. wholesale nfl jerseys LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison are perhaps the best outside linebacker duo in the league. These two combined for 23.5 sacks last season.

The heart and soul of the defense (in my opinion) is safety Troy Polamalu. The Steelers weren’t the same team when he missed most of last season. His health is vital to Pittsburgh’s playoff chances, because no replacement can come close to doing all the things that Polamalu can do.

Technically speaking, it is worth noting that the underdog is a perfect 4-0 against the spread in the last four meetings between these two teams. If you like this trend to continue, bet the Steelers at +2.5 at BetUS.

With quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Michael Turner and wide receiver Roddy White, the Falcons have perhaps the best trio of skill players in the NFL.

Led by center Todd McClure, the Falcons also have a very solid offensive line to get the most out of their talented playmakers.

Atlanta’s offense has the potential to be explosive, but this team won’t get to the postseason if the defense can’t find a way to slow down opposing passing attacks. The Falcons ranked No. 28 in the NFL in pass defense last year, giving up 241.9 yards per game through the air.

With the addition of cornerback Dunta Robinson, the Falcons expect their secondary to be much better in 2010. Plus, this unit should catch a break in the opener with Roethlisberger unable to start.

It is worth noting that Atlanta is an impressive 10-2 against the number in its last 12 season openers. If you like Atlanta to get off to a fast start with a win and cover, bet the Falcons at -2.5 at BetUS.

Bet with confidence after you see who world champion handicapper Jimmy Boyd is pounding with his Week 1 NFL picks!

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