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Steelers to Rely on Le’Veon Bell For Playoff Push

The Pittsburgh Steelers need wins over their final four games of the regular season if they hope to reach the postseason.

The Steelers are currently tied for second in the AFC North. The Cincinnati Bengals lead the division at 8-3-1, while the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and the Steelers are all 7-5.

Baltimore holds a tiebreaker over Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh over Cleveland in the wildcard race.

Mike Tomlin the Pittsburgh coach once said he would run Willie Parker until his wheels fell off. Tomlin was referring to a former running back for the Steelers who in 2007 did actually become injured in the next to last game of the regular season.

Parker, at the time was leading the league in rushing, but broke his lower leg against St. Louis.

Parker never returned from that injury the same and retired three years later at 30.

Steelers’ fans are now wondering if the team is taking a similar risk with current running back Le’Veon Bell.

The second year back could carry the ball 300 times and catch 90 passes this season.

Pittsburgh looks like it will lean heavily on the second year back as they attempt to reach the postseason.

Ben Roethlisberger has been struggling to find his accuracy throwing the ball, which means the offense will have to rely more on Bell going forward.

Add to that, Pittsburgh plays 3 of its final 4 games in cold weather cities and the running game and short passes become more and more important.

Bell is a much bigger back than Parker was but Pittsburgh should be worried about how the constant pounding he will take might adversely affect the amount of productivity he can generate during his career.

Pittsburgh thought they had found some relief for Bell when the team signed backup LeGarrette Blount this past march. However, he pouted due to a lack of playing time, was released and is now back with the New England Patriots.

That means except for an infrequent rest, Bell will be used nearly exclusively to run the ball, catch passes out of the backfield and remain in the pocket to block occasionally for Roethlisberger.

During the offseason, the Steelers can worry about finding a back up to lighten the load on Bell.

If the Steelers hope to be playing in the postseason, the team will have to run Bell for as long as they can this season before making an acquisition to lighten up Bell’s load next year.

The Steelers will have a big test this weekend when they visit the first place Bengals on Sunday in a game that could make or break their season.

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