2018 South Side Questions: Game Edition – Shootout Inevitable?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Game Edition – Is this game inevitably going to result in a shootout?

On deck today, we have two high-octane offenses on teams that have been underperforming to date. They only have two and a half wins between them in eight games played. The pressure to score the victory this afternoon will be immense.

That generally means lots of offense, at the expense of the defense. And both sides of the ball are dealing with some significant defensive injuries. That is especially true for the Atlanta Falcons, who have already lost a few defensive starters this season.

It’s only a matter of time—it has to be—before Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan both start playing their best football, and that includes hooking up in more consistent fashion with their top wide receivers—Antonio Brown and Julio Jones, respectively.

Today’s game would seem to be as good as any for that to happen, especially given that both the Steelers and Falcons have had significant defensive struggles. I’m actually have a hard time convincing myself that this isn’t going to be an explosive offensive game on both sidelines.

The Falcons are without their top two safeties for the rest of the season. The Steelers are currently down one, and they will be without their signal-caller on defense today, replaced instead by a rotation of two, or possibly even three players.

Either one is a recipe for defensive breakdowns that can be exploited by veteran quarterbacks such as Roethlisberger and Ryan. Frankly, I don’t anticipate the running game being much of a factor for either side, both offenses in a hurry to get out in front of their opponent.

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