Power rankings are about perception, to state the obvious. They only at best reflect reality, if they are lucky enough to manage even that. For it to actually have any effect on reality is an absurd suggestion. Still, it can be interesting at times to gauge perception, particularly in an avenue such as sports, or in our case, where analysts view the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The league’s own website maintains a weekly power rankings list executed by Dan Hanzus, and naturally, there is a fresh list heading into week five. The Steelers, of course, did not play in week four like they were supposed to because a Covid-19 outbreak in the Tennessee Titans organization—their scheduled opponent—forced the league to move the game to later in the season.
Pittsburgh entered the week placed fourth in Hanzus’ power rankings. For him, their idle week did them no favors, though through no fault of their own, as he had the Buffalo Bills leapfrog both the Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks.
The Steelers are now ranked fifth in his list, one place ahead of Seattle and one behind Buffalo, with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers, and the Baltimore Ravens representing the top three teams. Personally, I would rank Seattle higher, but like I said at the beginning, this is all perception. Here is what Hanzus wrote on Pittsburgh:
There’s nothing the Steelers can do but roll and adapt after their Week 4 showdown with the Titans was rescheduled for Week 7 following an outbreak of positive coronavirus tests within the Titans organization. The rearranged schedule means the Steelers will now play 13 consecutive games to close the regular season. It gives Mike Tomlin’s team even more incentive to land the No. 1 seed and the all-important playoff bye that comes with it.
It’s interesting at least that his entry reads as though he believes the Steelers are squarely in the running for that number one seed. It has been a long time since Pittsburgh has actually been the number one seed, though they have been the number two seed on several occasions. They were, of course, the top seed in 2004 during a 15-1 campaign in Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season.
The last time the Steelers actually reached the postseason, in 2017, they did qualify as the number two seed with a 13-3 record. Were it not for an official ruling of a no catch for Jesse James late in the year against the New England Patriots, they almost surely would have been the number one seed.
And they wouldn’t have had to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round and lose.