Steelers travel to Atlanta to take on the Birds

It’s not every week that two NFL teams from different conferences fight to stay alive in the race for their division title. When the Pittsburgh Steelers head to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15 that is exactly what will be happening.

Despite being just 5-8, the Falcons rest calmly atop a battered NFC South and welcome the Steelers with every intention of ousting them to stay the course. While that sounds like a great plan, the Falcons will have to be careful not to come in letdown after losing a shootout to the Packers in Week 14. In that same breath, the Steelers are fighting a divisional battle of their own in the AFC North, as they enter at 8-5 and just a half game out of first place.

Needless to say, neither team can afford much wiggle room in one of the more unlikely meaningful clashes of the week. Despite so much being on the line for both sides, Falcons tickets at have dropped in price this week, as fans only have to pay $261 on average to get in the building. Nonetheless, the drop in price has been just 2% over the last seven days, so prices have stayed relatively high. Steelers fans always travel well and that’s certainly the case for this Sunday as Pittsburgh Steelers tickets are higher than any other Falcons home game.

Both teams will be out to get a win, but with only one possible victor, what can fans expect?

Atlanta understandably holds a slight edge at home when you look at history, but with just a pedestrian 3-3 mark on their home field this year, a game in the dome isn’t necessarily a walkover. Then again, the Steelers also haven’t been quite as good when they’re away from Heinz Field, as they’ve gone just 4-3 on the road. As far as home vs. road numbers go, there isn’t a clear edge to be had.

The key may end up being Julio Jones. The Falcons stud wide receiver dropped a career high 259 receiving yards on the Packers in Week 14, but exited the game in the fourth quarter due to a hip injury. A healthy Jones could allow the Falcons to take the top off of a shaky Steelers defense at home, but without Jones the offense may be grounded.

Either way, finding out how to establish balance and control this game may be the key that is more attainable (and more important), especially if Jones sits this one out. Feeding Steven Jackson the rock against a Steelers run defense that is among the 10 worst units in the league could help the offense hold onto the ball, which should naturally keep Atlanta’s defense fresh.

Ben Roethlisberger has had some of his worst performances on the road, so if the Falcons can play a methodical game on both sides of the ball, they could make sure Big Ben doesn’t get into a groove. It won’t be easy and it could even be ugly, but a Week 15 win could push the Falcons one step closer to a return to the playoffs.