Another week, another power rankings list, and this time, we see the Pittsburgh Steelers moving their way up again. It’s no surprise to see them progress this week, as they not only just played their first quality opponent, they also had their most persuasive and dominant performance of the season to date.
Dan Hanzus runs the power rankings for the league’s own website. He started the Steelers off at 11 to begin the season, understandably reserved about what we would see from Ben Roethlisberger, but moved them up to seven after one week, and then to five. They have been stuck at four, but after trouncing the Cleveland Browns, Hanzus now views them as the second-best team in football behind the Kansas City Chiefs. He writes:
It’s all coming together for the Steelers, now 5-0 for the second time in franchise history. Pittsburgh posterized the Browns at Heinz Field in a 38-7 drubbing that was every bit as one-sided as the final score indicates. The Steelers neutralized the Browns’ running game and dared Cleveland to win on the right arm of a banged-up Baker Mayfield. It wasn’t a fair fight, typified by the Minkah Fitzpatrick pick-six in the first quarter that set the tone for the afternoon. The only bad news on Sunday? Linebacker Devin Bush — who had played every snap for Pittsburgh’s defense this season — tore his ACL and is done for the year. A tough loss for the front seven.
Their gain was the Baltimore Ravens’ loss, who fell out of third place down to fourth, with the Tennessee Titans also moving ahead of them. Although they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, it was a narrow victory that involved a late stop on a two-point conversion that would have tied the game at 30.
There is a slight irony here, as the Steelers just a week ago also had a difficult time closing out a game against the Eagles, even though they held a substantial lead at one point, as the Ravens also did. But they trounced the Browns—which the Ravens also did in the opener—and that was enough for Hanzus to decide that they now look like the better team.
As for the Browns themselves, they hit freefall, dropping from ninth in the rankings down to 15. And after blowing another game, the Cincinnati Bengals dropped another two spots as well, falling from and already-low 26th to now 28th.
Power rankings, of course, mean nothing but a simple reflection of how people on the outside view the relative quality of each team. It’s a nice token to see the Steelers acknowledged as one of the very best teams in the league right now, but it has no bearing on anything that actually happens between the lines.
With the Steelers and Titans going head to head next week, I can’t help but wonder if the winner of this game will find themselves on top of the list, or if the Chiefs, who do have a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, will remain a cut above.