FBG says: Good matchup. James Conner looks ready to return Sunday from his shoulder injury, and he'll immediately slot in ahead of Benny Snell as the Steelers' bell cow runner. Still, even over a full, healthy game, it's hard to project Conner to much efficiency. He's only topped 50 yards twice over his 7 full games, averaging an anemic 3.8 per rush. In fact, aside from his Week 8 eruption against the lowly Dolphins, his mark sits at just 3.1. And there's no guarantee he'll even finish Week 15 on the field after aggravating the injury in mid-Week 11. The Steelers boast one of football's strongest front lines, headed by a pair of dominant interior blockers in Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. But Conner and backup Snell (just 4.0 himself) are generally slow-footed plodders, and neither has picked up more than what's been blocked. It's puzzling as to why the Steelers seem to have given up on Jaylen Samuels as more than a complementary runner. With just 21 carries over the past 4 weeks, he looks locked into a third-down role. The team may need his dynamism, though, if they're going to generate any difference-making runs Sunday.
The Bills defense has earned a strong reputation here in 2019, but it's been built almost entirely against the pass. The run defense has been fairly beatable for much of the season, sitting 21st league-wide on a per-carry basis. To their credit, they do stand as the only Ravens opponent since Week 3 to hold Lamar Jackson under 60 yards (40 on 11 attempts last week). There are definitely impact players in this unit, such as first-round rookie tackle Ed Oliver, who has made a number of splash plays in the backfield over the past month. But overall, it's a relatively soft group, one that's been picked through efficiently by speedsters (Phillip Lindsay, Adrian Peterson) and power backs (Ezekiel Elliott, Nick Chubb, Jordan Howard) alike. The linebackers aren't particularly strong in gap discipline and pursuit, so safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are relied upon heavily. They're perfectly capable, but it's never a good sign when the safeties are the unit's best run-stoppers. The Steelers boast a strong front line, with a pair of pulling technicians in Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. That could be deadly for a Bills defense that struggles to contain the run on the second level.