Predicting Steelers’ Odds to Win During Le’Veon Bell Suspension
Veteran running back DeAngelo Williams filled in admirably for an injured Le’Veon Bell in 2015 during his first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s looking like he may have to do it again.
L. Bell facing 4-game suspension for violating NFL policy on substances of abuse. He’s fighting it.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) July 22, 2016
According to multiple reports, Bell is facing a four-game suspension from the NFL after for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. Bell was allegedly scheduled to submit a drug test, but failed to do so and now could be at risk of missing the first four games of the 2016 NFL season.
Nothing is official and Bell is said to be fighting the four-game ban, but players rarely win appeals against the league. Barring some unforeseen development, Bell is almost certainly looking at some type of ban to start the year.
It could actually be looked at as somewhat of a positive, seeing as Bell is still recovering from a knee injury he sustained in the middle of the season last year.
While still a huge loss, Bell could take that extra time off to get to 100%, while the Steelers do know that with DeAngelo Williams in their backfield, they have one of the best fill-in starters in the league.
Pittsburgh didn’t seem to miss a step with Williams running the ball in 2015, as the ageless wonder racked up over 1,200 total yards and 11 touchdowns in just 10 starts.
This does look like a loss the Steelers can withstand on paper if we’re looking at the entire season, but it doesn’t help in a year where tight end Heath Miller retired and wide receiver Martavis Bryant has already been suspended for the entire season.
NFL bettors will understandably have to downgrade the Steelers a bit, both in terms of winning the AFC North (+130 odds) and competing for an NFL title (+1200 odds).
In the present, bettors will first be curious as to how Pittsburgh will fare through their first four games, should Le’Veon Bell’s suspension stick. With a murderer’s row of the Redskins, Bengals, Eagles and Chiefs through the first four weeks.
The Steelers play the Redskins, Bengals, Eagles, Chiefs in Weeks 1-4. Three of those teams made the playoffs in 2015 pic.twitter.com/3stZgLv2hk
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 22, 2016
That group doesn’t look necessarily formidable at first glance, but all four teams made the playoffs in 2015 and the two NFC East battles (Redskins and Eagles) happen to be on the road.
Few will assume the Steelers will fully collapse and go 0-4 without Bell and Bryant, especially with a very solid Williams in the fold. However, the Steelers will not be as strong as usual to start the year and will be a little easier to take down.
An under-manned Steelers team should still find a way to get past Washington in week one, but an intense divisional showdown with the Bengals would be tough to mark in their favor. We’d also like them to sneak past a rebuilding Eagles team, but if Kansas City is the team they were in the second half of 2015, we don’t love a short changed Steelers squad there, either.
Overall, the Steelers will still pack a strong offensive punch and it remains possible they still go 4-0 during this stretch. However, Bell is an elite talent and his loss will be felt. A 2-2 start to the 2016 season is as good a bet as any for the Steelers if the suspension sticks.
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