Steelers disrespected in Peter King’s NFL power rankings

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin instructs drills during Rookie Minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin instructs drills during Rookie Minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

NFL personality Peter King recently released his NFL power rankings following the 2022 offseason. Here’s where he has the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

I try not to get too caught up in power rankings and predictions during the offseason, but NFL analysts and oddsmakers seem to be in agreeance that the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t going to be a very good team in 2022.

This is somewhat surprising. Although Pittsburgh will be without QB Ben Roethlisberger, Kevin Colbert did everything in his power to make sure he left the next general manager in good hands.

Personally, I think the additions this year for the Steelers grossly outweigh their departers, in addition to losing a 39-year-old QB on his last legs, Pittsburgh said goodbye to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Joe Haden, and Ray-Ray McCloud.

Joining the team, however, are some players who could prove to be key additions like Kenny Pickett, George Pickens, James Daniels, Myles Jack, Levi Wallace, Mason Cole, DeMarvin Leal, and Calvin Austin III. This doesn’t even count the possible (but not guaranteed) return of Stephon Tuitt after he sat out the entire 2021 season.

Regardless, Pittsburgh’s offseason moves obviously weren’t enough to sway the general media. Recently, prominent NFL personality, Peter King, released his NFL power rankings following the offseason. He had the Steelers ranked as just the 23rd-best team in the league. Here’s what King had to say:

"23. Pittsburgh (9-7-1, lost a wild-card game to Kansas City)If the coach was anyone but Mike Tomlin, I’d think of the 2022 Steelers in the 5-12 range. They still might be in that neighborhood, because for the first time since training camp 2004, there’s no Ben Roethlisberger, and significant questions about whether Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett can be a good NFL passer. The offense should run through Najee Harris. His 307 carries as a rookie in 2021 could easily graduate to 330 in 2022. For the Steelers to be close to good, the defense will have to be better than 24th in the league in yards allowed. The talent is too good for that, and new coordinator Teryl Austin will be under pressure to make sure it’s a better unit."

King claims that he would have the Steelers in the 5-12 win range this year if their coach was anyone other than Mike Tomlin. Personally, I think that’s a stretch. I also think Ben Roethlisberger’s departure is getting blown out of proportion as he has not been great over the final two seasons of his career.

King also pointed to Pittsburgh’s defense, saying that this needs to be an improved unit from the one that actually ranked 27th in the NFL in yards allowed last season, according to Team Rankings.

Should Steelers be ranked higher?

King may very well be correct on his early evaluation of the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers, but having a team like the previously 3-13-1 Detroit Lions ahead of them seems pretty nonsensical.

In addition to the Lions being slated higher in King’s NFL power rankings, teams like the Ravens, Eagles, Saints, Raiders, Broncos, Dolphins, Patriots, Browns, Colts, Vikings, and Cardinals are each ranked just ahead of the Steelers.

This isn’t some bottom-dweller we are talking about here. This is the Pittsburgh Steelers — a team that went 9-7-1 last season and made the playoffs. Additionally, I think the Steelers did more to improve their team this offseason than a handful of teams ahead of them on this list of power rankings.

If the Steelers can even get serviceable quarterback play out of Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, they could prove to be at least as good of a team as they were last season. This may not necessarily reflect in their record, as they went 4-2 in their division last season and the AFC North seems to be as strong as it’s ever been. However, I’m banking on the Steelers having an improved defense in 2022 after a down year last season.

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Mike Tomlin never minds being the underdog and I’m sure he’s looking forward to proving doubters wrong again in 2022. I don’t think the Steelers will be Super Bowl contenders this year, but I would be surprised if they were as bad as the 23rd-best team by the end of the season.