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Steelers offense will have to carry team against high-powered Saints

The Steelers have never had the kind of offensive output at Heinz Field under Mike Tomlin they've enjoyed through five home games this season. They'll need to match the high-powered Saints punch-for-punch to move to 8-4 on the season.

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Fans have gotten their money's worth at Heinz Field this season.

If you mentally sidestep the Tampa Bay loss, that is. Therapists in the Pittsburgh area are recommending fans just ignore that game completely. Outside of it, the Steelers are 4-0 and are averaging 35.6 points per game at Heinz Field overall. Massive outpourings of 51 and 43 points, respectively, in wins over the Colts and Ravens supply the bulk of the weight, with 30-point efforts in wins against Cleveland and Houston helping to bracket the lower end.

The unmentionable loss to Tampa Bay saw the Steelers score 24 points, their worst showing of the year.

It's a completely different team on the road, averaging only 18.3 points per game, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Post Gazette. The key to Sunday's game, one against the equally high-powered Saints' offense, may simply be in the scheduling. The fact it's at home against a team that dropped three in a row on a three-game home stand may benefit both teams to some degree. Whatever problems the Saints have had in terms of winning games recently isn't entirely on the offense. They fell 27-24 in overtime to San Francisco, played a sloppy game in all phases in a 27-10 loss to the Bengals and, most recently, suffered a 34-27 loss to Baltimore.

The Steelers are their third consecutive team from the AFC North and the second straight team coming off a bye- week. They'll also be one of the toughest road opponents for the up-and-down Saints.

As far as the Steelers are concerned, facing another one of the league's top pass-catching tight ends will prove to be a challenge and one they haven't really seen in their five home games (Cleveland's Jordan Cameron only played 22 snaps in Week 1 and still managed to gash the Steelers for a 47-yard gain). Jimmy Graham is a matchup problem for any team, and he might be the weapon of choice for the Saints to keep pace with the home-running Steelers.

It'll take more than the new grass laid at Heinz Field last week to keep the Steelers hot as the temps drop. New Orleans, at 4-7, is still in a divisional race. Since the NFC South as a division has only one win outside of itself - Tampa Bay's Week 4 win in Pittsburgh - the Saints should have confidence they're capable of beating the 7-4 Steelers.

And if the Saints should win this game, don't think Steelers fans will forget another loss to a weakened NFC South team.