3 key matchups: Falcons vs. Steelers

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Here are three key matchups to watch when the Falcons (5-7) face the Steelers (4-7) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

1. Falcons RT Kaleb McGary vs. Steelers OLB T.J. Watt: Because of injuries, Watt has participated in only four games this season. He has 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, one pass defensed and two interceptions. In his career, he has 73.5 sacks. McGary has been responsible for four sacks allowed in 722 snaps and been flagged three times. The Falcons’ run-pass option should slow Watt, but in obvious passing situations, McGary must keep him away from Mariota.

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2. Falcons OLB Lorenzo Carter vs. Steelers OT Dan Moore: The Steelers have allowed 32 sacks in 11 games. Moore has allowed six of those. He has also been called for eight penalties. Carter has 3.5 sacks with five tackles for loss and seven quarterback hits. If Carter can get past Moore and pressure rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, it will go a long way toward helping the Falcons win.

3. Falcons S Jaylinn Hawkins vs. Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth: Freiermuth, with 47 receptions for 521 yards, has become the favorite of Pickett. Freiermuth has been targeted 70 times. Hawkins will be tasked with covering Freiermuth. Hawkins has 42 tackles and two interceptions. He’s allowed 15 receptions on 21 targets.

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