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AFC North: Players and matchups to watch

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Oct 27, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le

Pittsburgh Steelers

Running Back Le’Veon Bell

The rookie back out of Michigan State hasn’t lived up to expectations yet, but he’s shown brief glimpses of being the feature back the Steelers desperately need him to be.

He ran for 24 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in Pittsburgh’s most recent loss to the Oakland Raiders. This, after Bell rushed for 93 yards against the Ravens in Week 7. Pittsburgh did play from behind most of the game vs the Raiders which caused the running game to be abandoned.

But that can’t happen this week against the New England Patriots, who’s been without starting defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly for the past three weeks. Leading tackler Jerod Mayo also was lost for the season, and the Pats run defense has been gashed over the past month, and over their last four games, they are giving up 156.5 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Bell could be in for a career day in Foxborough. He has 64 carries, 208 yards and three touchdowns at the midpoint of the season, and he’ll need to at least double those numbers in the second-half if the team hopes to get back into playoff contention.

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