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Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers,
8-20-2017 - Expert Prediction

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Game Snapshot with Current Line

#427 Atlanta
Falcons
#428 Pittsburgh
Steelers

Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 4:00pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

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Atlanta Falcons (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 1-0 O/U) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U)

NFL: Sunday, August 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. EST

The Line: Pittsburgh -2. Total: 39.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons will contest their second game of the preseason when they collide at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Atlanta, the reigning NFC champion, lost its opener to Miami 23-20. The Steelers, who were also playoff bound in 2016, are coming off a victory over the Giants.

Lock him up

The Falcons have made sure that running back Devonta Freeman will be a part of their franchise for years to come. They signed the former Florida State Seminole to a five-year contract extension last week, with the deal set to pay him $41.25 million with a $15.million signing bonus and $22 million guaranteed. Freeman is the only NFL running back to have rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.

“We are very pleased that we were able to get this extension done,” Dimitroff said. “Devonta embodies everything we are looking for in a Falcon, and we are proud that he’ll be able to spend his career here in Atlanta.”

The 25-year-old has been dealing with heat-related issues at practice of late so his status should be monitored. Regardless, the starters will not see significant action until the third game of the preseason. Freeman had one carry for three yards in the opener.

Bryant finally back on the field

Pittsburgh picked up a 20-12 win over the Giants in Week 1 of the preseason. Joshua Dobbs got most of the work at quarterback and threw for 100 yards and a touchdown despite being picked off twice. Running back Terrell Watson had 10 carries for 44 yards and a score. Pittsburgh forced two turnovers–including an interception by Arthur Moats–and limited New York to 242 yards of total offense.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said that wide receiver Martavis Bryant will start against the Falcons. Bryant, who has not played a game since a January 2015 playoff loss to Denver, worked out before last Friday’s game before Tomlin made the decision to hold him out. He was suspended for all of the 2016 campaign due to a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

NFL Trends

The Atlanta Falcons are:

  • 10-4-1 Under in their last 15 games on grass

The Pittsburgh Steelers are:

  • 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 overall
  • 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games on grass

Atlanta’s passing defense has been a weak point for many years and it underwhelmed again in its preseason loss to Miami. Dolphins’ quarterbacks threw two interceptions, but they also racked up 258 yards through the air and tossed a trio of touchdown strikes. In addition to Bryant, Steelers’ running back James Conner is also expected to see the field on Sunday after missing last week’s contest. The Steelers are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 overall and 4-1-1 ATS in their last six on grass. Expect those trends to continue.

Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

Offenses have been slow to get going in the preseason with backups galore on the field. The Falcons mostly failed to move the ball after their starters exited against the Dolphins. As for Atlanta’s defense, first-round selection Takkarist McKinley may make his debut after missing the opener due to injury. The under is 10-4-1 in the Falcons’ last 15 on grass. It is also 16-7 in the Steelers’ last 23 overall and 7-3 in their last 10 on grass. Look for this one to stay under the total.

Pick: Under

3

Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.

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