Steelers start off high enough in FanSided Week 1 NFL power rankings

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

While the Steelers have legitimate concerns in 2021, FanSided’s Week 1 NFL power rankings suggest they might be plenty good enough to compete.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons why fans should be concerned about the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.

If anything, that same argument could apply to all but three or four teams across the entire NFL.

No roster is perfect, and even Pittsburgh can attest to some of the weaknesses and shortcomings heading into the regular season. And with a fluctuating AFC North, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how the divisional pecking order shapes up by the time Week 5 or even the halfway point of 2021 rolls around.

The critics might say the Steelers struggle a lot this season. But there are others who don’t hold as grim a perspective, especially with Week 1 just days away.

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FanSided NFL power rankings suggest Steelers could be just fine

No regular-season games have been played yet, so we essentially “don’t know what we don’t know.”

However, Pittsburgh’s roster is just fine enough to stay in contention within the division and compete for a playoff berth. And in his Week 1 NFL power rankings, FanSided NFL insider Matt Verderame isn’t viewing the Steelers as a franchise trending in the wrong direction.

Heading into the regular season, Verderame ranks Pittsburgh at No. 12 overall:

"Ben Roethlisberger could sink this team, but the defense is terrific and the weapons are solid."

Not bad at all.

That’s the seventh-ranked team within the AFC, which would mean a Wild Card berth, although Pittsburgh is ranked third of four teams within the division. The Cleveland Browns (No. 5) and Baltimore Ravens (No. 8) are both ranked ahead of the Steelers, while the rebuilding Cincinnati Bengals enter the year at No. 29.

Reasons to be bullish on the Steelers in 2021

Yes, one could be concerned about Roethlisberger’s arm strength and ability to stay healthy, especially behind an awfully questionable offensive line, which many peg to be Pittsburgh’s primary weakness.

And it’s equally concerning no new deal has been reached with All-Pro EDGE T.J. Watt, although signs are at least pointing to him being on the field in Week 1.

That’s a tremendous boost if Watt is available. All the better if a contract extension can be worked out, but the bigger point is the Steelers defense looks to be as formidable as it was last season, which will be a necessity to stay competitive within the AFC North and the rest of the conference.

While the focus will be on Roethlisberger, offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system is likely to take advantage of what the quarterback can still do, placing an emphasis on short passes to a deep crop of receiving talent and a revamped rushing game with rookie running back Najee Harris.

It might not be enough to cover up all of Roethlisberger’s shortcomings at this stage of his career, but these efforts certainly help.

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