PFF Preview: Steelers @ Falcons, Week 15
The Atlanta Falcons (5-8) will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) this week in a game that will likely include plenty of scoring. Last week the Falcons put up 37 points in a loss at Green Bay, while the Steelers took care of business on the road with 42 points of their own. Both teams are in the midst of the playoff race, although in different scenarios. The Steelers are in the mix to win their division with a chance at a wild card spot, but the Falcons must win their division to make the playoffs.
Desmond Trufant has been one of the few bright spots for the Falcons’ defense this year. His effort last week against the Packers’ elite receivers show that he is capable of being one of the better corners in the league in only his second season. While being covered by Trufant, the Green Bay receivers caught three passes on five targets for 14 yards. Trufant has accumulated the fifth-highest overall rating (+14.6), and the seventh-most passes defended (8) for cornerbacks this season. This week he will likely get to see a lot of the highest rated wide receiver so far this season in Antonio Brown (+19.7).
Brown has consistently been one of the most productive receivers this season, and a lot of it has to do with his quarterback’s trust in him. No receiver has been targeted more than Brown this season, and for good reason as Roethlisberger’s quarterback rating is 120.7 when targeting Brown. Brown has been targeted less than 10 times in only two games this season, so Trufant and the Falcons defense can expect a heavy dose of Brown.
Le’Veon Bell – Bell has forced 50 missed tackles, and averaged 5.1 yards per carry on his way to taking a commanding lead on the overall season ratings for running backs (+22.6).
Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben has become accustomed to throwing under pressure, and doing it well. Only Jay Cutler has thrown more touchdowns when under pressure, while Ben leads the league in completion percentage when under pressure (63.3%).
Cameron Heyward – Heyward has produced pressure on the quarterback the 3rd most times for players at his position and has a Pass Rush Productivity rating of 8.3, which is the fifth-highest.
Julio Jones – Coming off a career game in terms of yards and PFF rating (+6.3) it is expected he will continue to thrive. His WR Rating is highest on passes thrown to him more than 20-plus yards downfield to the right side of the field (137.5), and 20-plus yards downfield to the middle of the field (131.5).
Jake Matthews – The Falcons’ rookie left tackle has struggled for most of the season, but has now strung together two good performances combining for a +2.9 in pass blocking with only one quarterback pressure allowed.
Kroy Biermann – Inconsistency has prevented Biermann from accumulating a positive rating, but he was able to lead the team in quarterback pressures last week in Green Bay with one sack and four hurries.
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