Roethlisberger-Less Steelers Still A Favorite Over Matt Ryan And Atlanta Falcons In Week One
September 8th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

The Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers face off in Week One of the 2010 NFL Season, in what will be one of the more interesting games, given the storyline surrounding the Steelers quarterback situation.

The Steelers announced that they will start Denis Dixon for the season opener, as Ben Roethlisberger serves his four-game suspension that begins on Sunday, in which he can not have contact with the team or attend the games. Dixon beat out Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for the starting position, that was perhaps aided by a recent injury to Leftwich.  Still, Dixon showed promise during the preseason, and will look to string together victories in the first quarter of the season.

Offensively for the Steelers, Dixon is just as mobile and probably more mobile and able to scramble around the pocket than Roethlisberger.  The Steelers offensive line should be used to this, as Roethlisberger is known for scrambling around the backfield looking to make the big play.  Sunday against the Falcons however, look for head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh offense to be careful with the plays that they call, and make sure that Dixon is comfortable with them.  This could mean not opening up the playbook completely, or as much as they would with Roethlisberger here.

Dixon will have help around him however, with Rashard Mendenhall at the running back position and receivers like Hines Ward and Mike Wallace.

Defensively for the Falcons against the Steelers, look for head coach Mike Smith to turn some players loose and try and force Dixon into making young quarterback mistakes.  Dixon has limited starting experience, and opening up the NFL season is brand new to him.

For the Falcons on offense, quarterback Matt Ryan enters his third season with the team, and looks to rebound from a year in which he felt he under performed, and struggled with injuries at time.  Ryan will hand the ball off to one of thetop back in the league, in Michael Turner.  Additionally, receivers Roddy White and Michael Jenkins get a boost when Harry Douglas comes back from an ACL-ending season a year ago.

The Falcons should try to establish the run behind Turner, but won’t hesitate to go through the air, in which the team is confident that Ryan can make all the throws.

Even without Roethlisberger in this one, USA Online Sportsbooks and NFL Weekly Betting Lines has set the Steelers as a two-point favorite to get a win in Week One.  The over/under for the contest is sitting at 37 1/2 points.

The weather forecast for the game looks like a great day for football, with an expected high of 71 degrees at game time at 1pm on FOX.

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