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Ryan Shazier’s injury could open up middle of the field for the Ravens offense

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens offense saw itself dominated in the Week 4 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ryan Shazier was almost single-handedly responsible for his unit's performance with ten tackles and an interception an the presence of a middle-of-the-field enforcer that reminded Ravens fans of one Ray Lewis.

Shazier will not be a feature of this weekend's matchup. As a result, Tyler Matakevich - who is not in the same stratosphere as Shazier from a coverage standpoint - will see more playing time.

The Ravens offense has a chance to utilize the middle of the field to great success with play action and run action passes that utilize the team’s running concepts. Ben Watson should be a direct benefactor of Shazier's absence. As far as the passing game is concerned, he will threaten the seams against man coverage and will find holes to sit in if the Steelers feature cover 2 coverages.

Shazier's absence will also benifit Alex Collins. He was not the feature back in the Week 4 matchup, yet still managed 82 yards on nine carries. Collins has yet to cross the twenty carry threshold in a single game. If the Ravens want to keep the high-powered Steelers offense off the field, they will need to take adavantage of the hole Shazier has left. While the Steelers defensive line, led by Cameron Heyward is still stellar, Shazier's ability to shoot gaps and end drives with loss of yards for the offense will be missed. The Ravens offense will thus have a better chance to sustain drives.

The Ravens are coming off the best offensive performance the team has had this season in the win against the Lions. It seems like the pieces are finally falling into place and with the linchpin of the Steeler defense missing the next chapter in the rivalry, the Ravens offense has a chance to keep climbing.