I don’t think anyone expects the Steelers to be the best team in the NFL this season, but here’s why Pro Football Focus thinks Pittsburgh is stuck in limbo.
Despite earning a 9-7-1 record and making the playoffs last season, the NFL media doesn’t seem to be stoked about the Pittsburgh Steelers as we approach 2022 training camps. Most fans would agree that Kevin Colbert and new GM Omar Khan made ample improvements to the overall roster this offseason, but apparently not enough.
The Steelers have been written off so far in the 2022 NFL power rankings. Sadly, that didn’t change in Pro Football Focus’s most recent power rankings ahead of the 2022 season.
PFF currently has 20 teams ranked ahead of Pittsburgh following OTAs. Here’s what NFL analysts Sam Monson had to say about the Steelers in his power rankings:
"21. PITTSBURGH STEELERSThe Steelers have been perennial contenders for the duration of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. Their quarterback since 2004, Big Ben retired this offseason after never finishing a season with a losing record. Now, Pittsburgh needs to sustain that success with a combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett at quarterback. Either player will massively change the offense that had the fastest average time to throw in 2021."
Monson points to the admittedly shaky quarterback situation in Pittsburgh right now — not know if Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett will secure the starting job and if either will be competent enough to lead them to success.
While the quarterback situation is a legitimate concern, should the Steelers be this low in the NFL power rankings?
Where should Steelers be ranked?
Pro Football Focus has Pittsburgh narrowly missing the tier labeled ‘Eyes on the Playoffs.’ This would have been a fair assessment of their 2021 campaign. Instead, Monson has them as the first team listed in the tier ‘Stuck in Limbo.’
This obviously isn’t where anyone wants to see them. Despite their winning record last season and improved roster on paper, PFF has the Steelers listed alongside teams like the Commanders, Vikings, Lions, Jets, and Giants — not exactly elite company here.
Just ahead of Pittsburgh in the ‘Eyes on the Playoffs’ tier includes teams like the Saints, Dolphins, and Patriots. While you could make a case that their 21st spot in the power rankings is justified, I’m not convinced that the Steelers should be in a tier lower than these three teams.
One thing that makes this very difficult to assess is the improvement of the AFC competition this year — specifically their rivals in the AFC North. It’s easy to predict that Pittsburgh will have the worst starting quarterback of the group this season, and that certainly plays a big factor in the success. It seems unlikely that the Steelers could go 4-2 in the division like they did last year.
Still, this is a prestigious organization led by head coach Mike Tomlin — a coach who has never had a losing season before. Now, I agree that the bar needs to be set a bit higher and that his team needs to get on the championship road again in the near future, but I expect them to be competitive, at the very least.
We won’t have a very clear idea of where the Pittsburgh Steelers will fall in line with the rest of the league until we see them in action early in the season. I can see how they could be a ‘limbo’ team this year, but their roster is stronger than it was in 2021. With some decent QB play, the could easily move up a tier.