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Steelers Rank 16th In Pro Football Talk’s Week One Power Rankings

It’s Week 1 of the NFL season. Which means power rankings are just as common as the games themselves. Every mainstream media outlet it putting out their list #1 through #32 to kick off the season. In Pro Football Talk’s crack at it, they have the Pittsburgh Steelers higher than average, ranking 16th to begin the season. 

Explaining the choice, Mike Florio pens:

“Write them off at your own peril.”

Fin. 

That’s all he wrote about Pittsburgh. It’s not much to go off of but it’s a higher average than NFL.com or The Athletic, which had the Steelers 21st and 19th respectively. Florio’s point reflects the Steelers’ resiliency and ability to find ways to win, even knowing it often comes ugly. They climbed out of a 1-3 hole last year to finish second in the division and make the playoffs, though it came via some unbelievably good fortune that the Jaguars upset the Colts and the Raiders/Chargers avoided a seemingly inevitable tie.

Looking at the Steelers’ roster, quarterback is the most dramatic change the team made this offseason, playing without Ben Roethlisberger under center for the first time in nearly two decades. Mike Tomlin’s yet to officially announce a starter, but all signs point to Trubisky being named the Week 1 starter. He’ll offer far more mobility than Roethlisberger did over his final seasons and the Steelers’ offense should attack down the middle of the field more often, boosting the numbers of TE Pat Freiermuth and slot receiver Chase Claypool. While the new blood at quarterback will bring its advantages, Roethlisberger and the Steelers were abnormally good in one-possession games the last two seasons, going 15-4-1. That was easily the NFL’s best mark, besting annual contenders like the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Trubisky and/or Pickett will have to show that “clutch” and rally X-Factor Roethlisberger possessed over the duration of his career.

The offensive line is just as much a collective question mark, an unfortunately annual elephant in the room. Pittsburgh has plenty of talent at the skill positions, Diontae Johnson, Najee Harris, and rookie George Pickens, but it’s a matter of if the offensive line will play bad enough to mitigate all the high-level play at running back and receiver.

Pittsburgh will look to win through their defense in low-scoring slugfests. But the Steelers still have to show they’re significantly better than their 32nd-ranked run defense a year ago. Improvement is going to happen but they’ll need to be a top ten unit to compete. The secondary must get back to its ball-hawking ways, struggling to force turnovers despite a front seven that again led the league in sacks.

Florio’s rankings put the Steelers in third place in the AFC North, five spots ahead of the 21st-ranked Cleveland Browns. The Cincinnati Bengals take the top spot at #6 and the Baltimore Ravens just outside the top ten at #12. The Super Bowl champs Los Angeles Rams claim the #1 spot while the Houston Texans are in the league’s basement at #32.

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