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Why The Steelers Will Be An Excellent Test For The Falcons

Anyone who saw last year's gruesome Falcons-Steelers game probably knows where this is heading.

The Steelers are a tough team. Their offense can be ungainly at times—Ben Roethlisberger fumbles quite a bit and looks like an oaf—but they have a dangerous deep attack with budding star Mike Wallace at wide receiver. Rashard Mendenhall is super effective and is just now turning 24. And that defense is one of the best in the league.

If that sounds like going overboard on praise, it really isn't. The Steelers are a damn good football team. They're also the best challenge the Falcons could hope for in the pre-season, when the team is trying to tune up for a tough regular season.

Of course, the Falcons are no slouches, either. They took the Steelers to the wire in Week 1 of 2010, losing on (what else?) some very poor tackling that resulted in Mendenhall rumbling for a 50 yard touchdown.

The Falcons are taking the opportunity to test their players seriously, and plan to play their starters for at least the first half. The Steelers will undoubtedly respond in kind, which means we should have at least half of a great game. This is the first pre-season game, in my mind, where the team's performance genuinely matters.

We'll get into specific matchups and players to watch Saturday, but for the moment, tell me who and what you'll be looking for in the Falcons-Steelers game.