Two teams with sub-.500 records meet on the first Sunday of December when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. at Mercedes Benz Stadium, yet the game still has meaning. PHN readers can cash in on the DraftKings promo exclusive and Steelers bets, too.
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The Falcons (5-7) are only 0.5 games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the weak NFC South. Atlanta is still very much in playoff contention despite losing three of the last four games.
The playoffs seem like a longshot for the Steelers (4-7). However, they will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season after beating the Indianapolis Colts 24-17 on Monday night.
Here are the Steelers odds and lines vs. Falcons at DraftKings:
Spread: Steelers +1 (-120), Falcons -1 (+100)
Moneyline: Steelers -115, Falcons -105
Over/Under: 43 O (-110), U (-110)
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Pittsburgh Steelers Betting Preview
The Steelers defeated the Colts despite depending on their third-string and fourth-string running backs in the second half. Leading rusher Najee Harris sustained an abdominal injury in the second quarter and rookie Jaylen Warren missed the game with a hamstring injury.
Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 62 yards on 12 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 2-yard run with 9:55 left. Anthony McFarland rushed six times for 30 yards. Neither had a carry all season before Monday.
Harris practiced Friday and is expected to play.
The Steelers have rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games after doing so just twice in the first seven games of the season. They are now 21st in the NFL in rushing after finishing 32nd and last in 2020 and 29th last season.
The Falcons have struggled in defending the run recently, allowing an average of 189.3 over the last three games.
Meanwhile, running is what the Falcons do best in an offensive game plan that often seems like it is from another era. In fact, quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown as many as 30 passes just twice in 12 games this year.
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The Falcons are 27th in the league in total offense but fourth in rushing. They will likely run even more now that standout tight end Kyle Pitts underwent season-ending knee surgery earlier this week.
Rookie Tyler Allgeier leads the Falcons with 552 rushing yards. That is the third-highest total by a first-year player in franchise history.
The Steelers are sixth in pass defense in the NFL and 30th in run defense. Still, it’s hard to imagine the Falcons getting away from the run game.
If the Falcons do try to air things out, they must be aware of linebacker Alex Highsmith, who has a team-high 10 sacks. Highsmith has been a key player for the Steelers in a season when edge rusher T.J. Watt, the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was sidelined for seven games following surgery for a torn pectoral.
Watt is listed as questionable because of a rib injury. That could account for his quiet game against the Colts when Watt had just three tackles, and one quarterback hit.
Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction
The Steelers have historically beaten up the Falcons as they hold a commanding 14-2-1 lead in the all-time series, including winning 41-17 in the last meeting in 2018 in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have usually clearly had the better team in those games, but that is not the case this season. Nevertheless, look for them to prevail in a nail-biter.
Steelers 17, Falcons 16
Pittsburgh Steelers Bets We Like
Steelers -115 on the moneyline
Under 43 (-110)
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