There is nothing more frustrating than injuries ruining a teams chance at making a run to the Super Bowl, but the Steelers will face that reality as they host the Ravens without their star running back Le'Veon Bell. Pittsburgh will be without Bell who suffered a hyperextended knee on Sunday night, and they will now hand the running back duties over to Josh Harris. Expect newly signed Ben Tate and Dri Archer to see time in the backfield as well.
With no Bell, you can expect to see a ton of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. With the Ravens knowing the Steelers will throw the ball a ton, you can expect to see a lot of blitzes and Big Ben will have to be on the run quite a bit. He will rely heavily on Brown, who seems pretty reliable, considering he led the NFL with 129 receptions and 1,698 yards. Brown also added 13 TDs. Also we'll see a lot of rookie Martavis Bryant who is a big play threat and in limited time caught 8 TDs. Heath Miller should see his fair share of targets as well but he might see extra time as a blocker with Bell out.
I honestly do not expect any success on the ground from Pittsburgh as they simply cannot replace Bell. Harris and Archer combined for 19 carries and 56 yards on the season and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Steelers completely abandon the run. The Ravens are only giving up 88 yards on the ground, which is 4th best in the league. They give up nearly 250 yards through the air which ranks them 23rd and the Steelers have the 2nd best pass offense averaging just over 300 yards per game.
It should be the complete opposite when the Ravens are on offense. Baltimore is a run heavy offense as they use Justin Forsett, and Bernard Pierce. Forsett was one of the biggest surprises of the season as he rushed for over 1,200 yards and 8 TDs. It could also be part of their game plan to run the ball, and keep Big Ben and that Steelers air attack on the sidelines.
However if Baltimore finds themselves down big, they'll have to count on Flacco to get the ball downfield to Steve Smith and Torrey Smith. The Smith Brothers (no they aren't related) combined for 1,832 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Flacco quietly had a very good season, throwing for 3,986 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Even without Bell, I expect the Steelers to win, but it'll be close. Give me the Ravens at +3.5 and the over of 45.