When it comes to their odds of winning the Super Bowl, it would be hard to deny that the past month or so has done the Pittsburgh Steelers any favors. Over that span of time, we have learned that Le’Veon Bell is facing a four-game suspension, that Senquez Golson will likely miss the season, and that key free agent Ladarius Green is struggling with likely concussion-induced recurring headaches.
It is no surprise, then, to see that an NFL.com list of power rankings has seen the Steelers’ stock drop some, previous ranked as high as the third-best team in the league and now having fallen down to the seventh spot on the list.
Previously ranked behind only the Panthers and Cardinals, who retain their top two spots on the list, the Steelers have now been passed over in favor of the Packers, Broncos, Patriots, and Seahawks, all of whom moved up just one slot as Pittsburgh’s stock has dropped. Otherwise the rankings of the top seven teams remained the same.
The explanation for the Steelers’ drop focused solely on the fact that Bell is facing a four-game suspension, though the ranking may well have been written prior to learning up Golson’s surgery, and obviously before yesterday’s news about Green, and what that might entail for the season.
All three, however, are no doubt significant blows, though only Golson’s surgery at the moment appears to be a fixed and unalterable circumstance. Bell’s suspension is still under appeal, while we are still awaiting further developments about Green’s condition and progress.
If truth be told, the Steelers have not really been the recipients of any good news lately. While there have been some positive reports about some key players who are going to be expected to take on bigger roles this year, one can’t help but wonder how many blows they can take and still hope to be a major competitor for the Super Bowl this season.
I can’t help but feel that the loss of Green will be very significant, for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that their tight end group is nearly entirely different from last season. the loss of Martavis Bryant, which at this point may often simply be forgotten since it happened so long ago, was going to be partly balanced by the opportunity to bring in Green. If he can’t play, they will have to improvise.
On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary is looking thinner than they would have liked, to be sure, and they have had to move their rookie safety into the slot in order to fill Golson’s shoes there, while their first-round cornerback looks like no early contributor.
Still, the Steelers’ roster is filled with talent, including first-team All-Pro-worthy players, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and several budding players on defense. This is a talented team that should find success in the playoffs, but the road there may not be as clear as it should be, and the ultimate destination of the Super Bowl fades on the horizon.