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Beware The Inconsistent Yet Talented Pittsburgh Steelers

The Falcons can't know what version of the Steelers will show up, and that's a cause for concern.

Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the NFL's model franchises, and certainly one of the most consistent. From 1969 to today, they've had exactly three head coaches, or as many as the Falcons had from 2006-2008.

For all that, they're one of the most inconsistent teams in football thus far in 2014. They've blown out quality Ravens and Colts teams and lost to the Saints and Buccaneers, stomped the Bengals and been put gently to sleep by the Jets. The only players on the team churning out great performances week after week are Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, who have kept the Steelers competitive even in their worst efforts.

The bottom line, however, is that this team's week-to-week fortunes are nearly impossible to predict. They're capable of putting together eye-popping performances, and they're equally capable of losing games they have no business being on the wrong end of. The question for our purposes is, which team are we going to see Sunday?

First, a quick primer on the Steelers, beginning with a defense which has gone from one of the most vaunted units in the NFL to a creaky facsimile of the Steelers D of yore. Aging and a few glaring misses in player acquisition have fueled that decline, and it's serious enough that the Saints were capable of putting up a vintage performance against them just one week before they scored ten against a terrible Panthers defense. All eyes are going to be on Julio Jones, assuming he's healthy enough to play, because this unit simply isn't good enough to stop him. That gives the Falcons a real advantage, particularly since they're home.

The offense is a different story. Ben Roethlisberger has a sterling 29/8 TD/INT ratio that was heavily skewed by his back-to-back six touchdown, zero interception performance earlier in the year, but he's still one of the league's better passers. He's also a statue who can be pressured into more timid performances, particularly if Le'Veon Bell can't get the space to run. Ultimately, though, this offense has all the talent necessary to punish the Falcons. When Bell is rolling, in particular, they're virtually impossible to stop.

The Falcons will need to play well at home to take this one either way, but it goes without saying that a hot Steelers team is exactly what Atlanta doesn't want to face right now. We'll have to hope they're more Jekyll than Hyde here.

What are your impressions of the Steelers heading into this game?