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Falcons vs. Steelers: This week’s question mark is still the defense

Will we get the late Bengals game Falcons defense, or the early Bengals game version?

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The number of questions you could ask about this Falcons team is a mile long, to be blunt. The one that everyone should be fretting over heading into the week still concerns the defense.

That’s what happens when the biggest cause of your team’s current plight is so obvious. The Falcons have gotten out of their offensive rut in a big way, having rolled up 104 points in the last three weeks against defenses that are either on par or slightly stronger than what Pittsburgh can bring to the table this Sunday. Defensively, though, they’ve also allowed 104 points over that same span, which explains why they’re just 1-2 despite the outburst.

The Steelers have one of the better offenses in football, and while their ground game continues to scuffle without Le’Veon Bell, they’re still potent through the air. It’s not unfair to think that this defense, which couldn’t keep A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert (pre-injury) and Tyler Boyd in check is going to have problems doing so against Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jesse James.

The big question for the week is thus this: Will we get a Falcons defense that looks like the first half version against the Bengals, which allowed touchdowns on every Cincinnati offensive drive and looked spectacularly inept doing so? Or will we be lucky enough to get the second half defense, which still wasn’t great but did hold the Bengals to just nine points and managed an interception and a handful of sacks?

It’s not overly dramatic to say the answer to that question will determine this game. The Falcons can’t score 36 points every week, no matter how crummy the Steelers defense might be, and the defense is going to need to pick up the slack when the inevitable pullback happens. Will it happen this week?

I would like to say yes, but I’m leaning no at the moment, given the sheer number of issues plaguing the defense. But doubtless you are leaning one way or the other here, and now it’s time to hear from you.