Just two weeks into the NFL season, the thought process regarding the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers continues to change week-to-week, especially in NFL.com’s power rankings.
One week after cracking the top 5 following an upset win over the Buffalo Bills on the road to open the season, the Steelers fell outside of the top 10 Tuesday according to NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus.
Here’s what Hanzus wrote Tuesday about the Steelers’ fall, which was the second-largest in the power rankings:
“A big afternoon from the defense and a huge play on special teams paved the way for a Week 1 road upset of the Bills, but a home loss to the Raiders puts the focus back on an underwhelming offense,” Hanszus wrote. “Ben Roethlisberger is no longer the star who can put the Steelers on his back; the 39-year-old veteran needs help to make this attack go and he’s not getting enough of it from his offensive line or running game. Part of that responsibility falls on offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who’s still trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Pittsburgh should remain competitive as long as the defense stays intact, but a serious Super Bowl run will be impossible without balance on the other side of the ball.”
After dominating on defense in Week 1 and doing just enough offensively to upset the Bills, the Steelers took a precipitous drop in the power rankings as the offense underwhelmed once again, and the defense couldn’t hold up down the stretch due to a number of key in-game injuries paired with two key starters sitting out in Devin Bush and Joe Haden.
All that said, I don’t believe the loss to the Raiders warranted this much of a fall, largely because I believed the Raiders were a good team coming into the matchup.
Apparently NFL.com is now onboard the Raiders train, boosting Las Vegas to No. 11 in the power rankings – a climb of seven spots themselves.
The Steelers’ fall from No. 5 to No. 12 sees the following teams move ahead of them: Buffalo (No. 5), Green Bay (No. 6), San Francisco (No. 7), Cleveland (No. 8), Seattle (No. 9), Arizona (No. 10), and Las Vegas at No. 11.
In the AFC North, Baltimore remains in the top 5 at No. 3 overall in the power rankings, while Cleveland stayed at No. 8. Cincinnati, coming off of a loss on the road to the Chicago Bears, fell three spots to No. 26 ahead of the Week 3 matchup with the Steelers.
It’s important to note that these are just power rankings. In the nicest way possible, they’re meaningless. The 2021 season is a marathon, not a sprint. If the changes in the first two weeks for the Steelers are any indication, the national media will ride the rollercoaster of emotions with the Steelers all season long.