The Pittsburgh Steelers’ second straight victory did nothing to improve their spot in the latest NFL.com power rankings. The weekly edition from Dan Hanzus keeps the Steelers in the 16th spot, just as they were placed following their Week 5 victory over the Denver Broncos.
Choosing to focus on man for his Steelers’ writeup, Hanzus pens:
“There are no words to properly describe how important T.J. Watt is to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is the team’s best and most impactful player, and his ability to raise his game in the most crucial of moments makes him one of the greats. We saw that again on Sunday night, a 23-20 overtime win over the Seahawks that featured a dominant Watt performance capped by the Geno Smith strip-sack that set up the game-winning field goal by Chris Boswell. A closer study of the play reveals its brilliance: Watt was playing the run, reacted to Smith’s play-action, fought through several blockers and drilled Smith just as the quarterback thought he had escaped the pocket. Watt is what happens when elite talent meets max effort.”
Every word of that is true. Watt took over the end of Sunday night’s win with two sacks in overtime, the latter knocking the ball out of Geno Smith’s hands and recovered by Devin Bush, leading to Chris Boswell’s game-winning field goal. Watt is the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player and acted like it, essentially willing Pittsburgh to victory in what was essentially a must-have game. Losing to Seattle at home against their backup QB/RB and dropping to 2-4 would have been a deflating feeling.
Though Pittsburgh got the win, it’s fair to argue they didn’t deserve to climb up the power rankings. The Steelers were massively favored against a beat-up Seahawks team. And Pittsburgh didn’t exactly win in convincing fashion, blowing a 14-point lead and having to squeak out victory in overtime.
The AFC North is relatively tightly clustered. The Baltimore Ravens sit head and shoulders above the rest, grabbing the #5 spot in the league. The Cincinnati Bengals are second in the North, 11th overall, with the Cleveland Browns at #13, and Pittsburgh at #16.
For the Steelers, beating the Browns in Week 8 should bump them up the next set of power rankings and squarely get Pittsburgh back on track.
Taking the top spot in the post Week 6 rankings are the undefeated Arizona Cardinals while Buffalo is the top AFC team, nabbing the #2 spot. Houston falls into football’s basement at #32. It’s a surprise it took them this long to land there.