Well, well, well. The Pittsburgh Steelers are now a top 20 team in the popular NFL.com Power Rankings all of a sudden.
Following a thrilling 13-10 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Eve, the Steelers climbed five spots — yes, five! — in the latest power rankings from Around the NFL writer Dan Hanzus Tuesday morning, moving up from No. 22 overall to No. 17.
The move sees the Steelers pass the likes of New England Patriots, Raiders, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and the Cleveland Browns in the process.
That shouldn’t be all that surprising considering the Steelers are still in the AFC playoff picture, even if the chances at reaching the postseason are rather slim and requires quite a bit to happen that is outside of their control. Still, a sizable move up the power rankings of five spots after an emotional win sure is great to see from a team many counted out weeks ago.
“The Steelers will enter the new calendar year in playoff contention in the AFC, a huge victory for Mike Tomlin and Co.,” Hanzus writes regarding the Steelers ranking at No. 17 in his latest power rankings. “Pittsburgh continued its strong surge to the finish line with a 13-10 win over the Raiders on the night the late Franco Harris’ No. 32 was retired. Kenny Pickett checked another box in his quest to be seen as The Guy in Pittsburgh, leading the Steelers on a 76-yard drive in the final minutes that culminated with the go-ahead touchdown pass to breakout rookie George Pickens.
“A win over the Ravens would put the Steelers in position for a playoff return. Who would have guessed that back in November?”
The Christmas Eve win over the Raiders was rather thrilling, thanks to Pickett’s heroics on the game-winning drive, completing 7-of-9 passes for 75 yards, including the game-winning strike to Pickens up the seam from 14 yards out between two Raiders defenders. It was a major grow-up night for the Steelers young pieces offensively, even if it really only boiled down to one final drive.
That final drive showed a lot for the Steelers and their young pieces offensively, and now the games in the final two weeks mean even more for the franchise, with a playoff berth potentially on the line, as well as extending Mike Tomlin’s non-losing seasons streak to 16 seasons.
Back in November, with the Steelers sitting at 2-6 entering the Week 9 bye week, the season was over, Tomlin was assuredly going to have his first losing season, and the team seemingly needed a full reset.
Funny how this game works though. 7-8 with meaningful games into the new year, not to mention a significant rise up the board in the popular NFL.com Power Rankings.