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Steelers must keep Ben Roethlisberger upright, Bell ringing vs. fierce Chiefs defense

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The NFL is a pass happy league, known for rules changes that mostly favor the offense. For the Steelers today, a victory vs. the KC Chiefs will rely on one key. Getting balance from offensive stars Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There is little room for error today for both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams are in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive with just one week left after today. It's a pretty simple equation. Win and continue to advance. Lose and plan early an early January vacation.

For the Steelers, they sit in a better spot. They currently occupy the number five slot in the AFC playoff chase. They sit just a half game back of 1st place Cincinnati, who just happens to pay a visit to Heinz Filed next week to end the regular season. Today's game is of course is here in 'tahn 'n at.  And historically speaking, the Steelers have had KC's number, owning a 19-9 all-time mark vs. big Red.

Now before you go about putting down a wager on a Steelers romp, I'm here to tell you not so fast my friend. This Chiefs team has some pretty good players on it. They are 8-6 and possess a very good pass rush, one that has accounted for 38 sacks this season, tied for 7th in the league. Their pass defense is 2nd in the NFL allowing a paltry 199.2 yards per game. 

Ebenezer Scrooge pales in comparison as to how stingy the Chiefs secondary has been this season.

Tamba Hali, the burly outside linebacker for Kansas City grabs the imagination of those who think about what best represents the Chiefs defense. But for this season and very much today's game, the Steelers must be aware of the other outside linebacker in KC's 3-4 defense in Justin Houston, who's 17 sacks is tied for the most in the NFL with Elvis Dumervil of Denver.

No today's game won't be easy for the Steelers. So if protecting Ben and keeping him upright proves to be a problem, then perhaps the way to beat the Chiefs is by ringing a very loud bell.

Le'Veon Bell is having, statistically speaking, one fine NFL season. His 1,278 yards rushing is 2nd in the league and tops the AFC. He's one of three in the conference to surpass 1K on the ground and his gaudy 4.9 average is tied for 2nd in the league for backs with at least 200 attempts.  His 765 receiving yards makes him tops among all NFL running backs.

Seems like the road to success today will be paved in a ground attack that could take advantage of one weakness the Chiefs has shown in 2014 and that's rushing yards allowed.  The Arrowhead crew ranks 28th in the league in yards allowed on the ground at 132.6 and a 4.9 average per rush.

Maybe the recipe for success today, if the Steelers are to find a W is a balance in the ground and pass attack. I'm of the belief that this team lives and dies by what it's star quarterback can do through the air and that still could be very true today. However when you look at it and size up the scenarios, a healthy does of Bell early may be just the trick to cool the heels of that heavy Chiefs pass rush.

Bell and Ben and a 10th win. That's a Christmas gift every Steelers fan would love to unwrap today.

John Phillips is a radio personality for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and a columnist for Behind The Steel Curtain. Check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.