Prior to Monday night’s road win against Indianapolis, the Steelers opened up as 1.5-point underdogs for this week’s clash with Atlanta. The odds have done a 180, as Pittsburgh is now favored by just as much, according to lines posted by DraftKings Sportsbook.
So, what changed?
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Well, most importantly, the Steelers’ offense was capable against the Colts. The unit got contributions from the quarterback an entire fanbase was waiting to see improvement from, a rookie receiver that continues to impress, and a pair of tailbacks buried on the depth chart.
The combination of Kenny Pickett’s clean play — he hasn’t thrown a pick in three games — and an energized run game ended up propelling the team to a victory that changed the view on this campaign.
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Starting tailback Najee Harris left the contest before the first half ended and, without backup Jaylen Warren active, a pair of familiar faces considered to be afterthoughts made their presence known.
After a rookie season in which he rushed for 426 yards on 108 totes, Benny Snell’s numbers declined over the past two seasons. Prior to his performance in Indy, he only played three offensive snaps the entire season. Anthony McFarland, once a fourth-round pick, was released in the preseason and returned to be stuck on the practice squad.
Their combined showing, paired with Harris’ output before heading down the tunnel, marked the Steelers’ second-most productive ground total of the year. The 172 rushing yards were topped only by the 217 yards Pittsburgh ran for against New Orleans earlier in the month.
After completing over 70% of his passes for 174 yards, Pickett said earlier this week that he’s growing more comfortable within the attack. Confidence in the young signal-caller is becoming stronger, as well. The team’s leaders are behind him and believe that they can be successful with him under center.
Fellow newcomer George Pickens has turned heads, too. It seems every week that the Georgia product is making a grab that he shouldn’t. With six games remaining, he has an outside shot at becoming the first Steelers rookie wideout to notch 1,000 receiving yards.
Pittsburgh is aiming to string together wins for the first time this go-round. The Steelers and Falcons are even on the money line at -108.
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