Category: NFL

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Ranking the Steelers power ranking

Now that the draft dust has settled and free agency signings have slowed down to names that could be regional bank manager award winners for all I know, the power rankings are out. My rational brain cares not about such things, but my lizard brain always has a brief flash of a “Below the Browns??? Are you freaking kidding me???” reaction that makes me take a moment to compose myself.

Speaking of “below the Browns,” that’s where the ESPN ranking has Pittsburgh, stuck in the wasteland of 15th place. In addition to Cleveland, ESPN has the Packers, Cowboys, and Rams ahead of the Steelers. That’s a bit odd considering Pittsburgh defeated both the Packers and Rams last year with a much less regarded QB room and a “My First Playbook By Fisher Price” OC calling the offense. A rational person would think with all the improvements and upgrades the Steelers have appeared to make that they would at least get the nod over non-conference teams they beat in head to head match-ups. ESPN has Chicago ranked right behind Pittsburgh in 16th place. I guess they haven’t been paying attention to the abuse the front office has been dishing out to the Bears organization the last few years, as they should have a bit more distance in my humble opinion.

The NFL site is a little more kind, placing the Steelers in 13th place, yet behind the Browns again by one spot. The NFL list also has the Falcons ranked one spot behind the Steelers, so someone must have left the glue bottle open in that office.

In case you are keeping score, that’s two lists in a row that have the Steelers ranked last in the AFC North…on paper. In reality where giant men crash into each other and wills are tested on cold winter days, the Steelers have not finished last in their division since (checks notes) 1988. Wait, maybe 1989. It depends on if you look at an article that goes by when the season started or when it ended. It was a long damn time ago, regardless. I was still in high school then, and as I write this, I’m about to be 51. Great, now I’m depressed.

Some other rankings I have found have Pittsburgh as low as 17th place. When I see these lists and predictions, it always reminds me of a time when ESPN commentator and sports writer Bill Plaschke confidently and forcefully declared on the show Around The Horn that not only would the Steelers be defeated in their upcoming game, but they would lose out the rest of the season as well. “They are DONE!” he exclaimed loudly. Plaschke spoke with the confidence of a guy that owned a DeLorean equipped with the flux capacitor option and had managed to get a sports almanac from the future.

I was at the gym getting in leg day after work when Bill made this proclamation on the tv set hanging from the ceiling. I remember it clearly for two reasons. I was able to hit a personal best on the squat rack as I imagined I was stomping on his face with every rep, and because of what happened in real life. You see, the year was 2005. The upcoming game was against the Chicago Bears. Yeah, that’s right. The Bus wearing his snow tires and running over Brian Urlacher on the goal line game. And we all know what happened after that. The week where Bill Plaschke declared the Steelers would not win another game was the start of a remarkable run where they won their last four remaining games, made the playoffs as the sixth seed, and then won every playoff game on the road, capped it off with a Super Bowl victory. Bill remains the one famous sports person I wish to meet above all others, so I can relay that little story in person.

The truth is this season will be the most unpredictable one the Steelers have had in years. There have been so many changes in such a short amount of time that it is head spinning to list them all. For this organization that usually makes changes at the pace of an ice age glacier carving out a great lake, it is both exciting and fascinating to watch. The changes in the players, coaching staff, and overall chemistry seem to be positive ones that will lead to good results on the field. So I won’t predict a ranking, because I have no clue how it will all work out. The only thing I will say is that no matter what happens, they aren’t finishing last in this division. That hasn’t happened since 1988. Or 1989. Make up your mind, Internet!



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