At first glance, Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers may appear to look a bit like Atlanta's Week 14 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, defensively speaking.
The Falcons will again face a deeply-talented receiving corps, headlined by Antonio Brown, a strong dual-threat running back, Le'Veon Bell, and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.
"You think he's sacked, but he can escape," Falcons safety Dwight Lowery said of Roethlisberger. "He can throw the ball with guys all over him. He's able to extend plays. I think he's protecting the football a lot better now than he has in years past. He's kind of similar to Aaron Rodgers as far as extending plays, but he's more physical and obviously a great quarterback as well."
Like Green Bay, Pittsburgh's aerial attack is quick-hitting. Blinking alone seems to open up an opportunity for a Steelers' score. Roethlisberger is second in the league with 4,055 passing yards and Brown has 11 touchdowns, while his 1,375 receiving yards are second highest in the NFL, behind Julio Jones. Bell has carried the ball 242 times for 1,231 yards and five touchdowns in his second season. He also has 71 receptions for 693 yards and three touchdowns this year.
As impressive as the Steelers' offensive numbers have been, Lowery bluntly made it clear what Atlanta's defense needs to do to accomplish the team's "1-0" goal this Sunday.
"We have to be better, period," Lowery said. "We can't worry about what the Steelers have done in the past. We have to focus on the execution and not letting the moment get too big. We haven't done well in that area. It's starting to get to crunch time where teams are separating themselves from each other, and if we want to be a part of that in a positive manner, we have to execute better."