After improving to 6-0 with a dramatic win over the Titans, the Steelers have moved into first place in power rankings of several different media outlets.
Many fans thought the team was being disrespected by previous installments of power rankings. They were being ranked behind multiple teams who had a loss while the Steelers did not and still don’t. But finally, we got our wish, and we get to see the Steelers sit atop of some of the power rankings. Not to be the Grinch on this power rankings party, but it doesn’t really matter where the team stands in power rankings.
For full disclosure, we’ll start this off with my opinion. I don’t think the Steelers should be number one in the power rankings. The NFL’s official power rankings have the same top four as me- Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore in that order. Does that change anything? Of course, it doesn’t.
Whether the Steelers have a one or two beside their name, the team is the same team. And a very good one at that. Ranking a team as the second-best, or even third or fourth, out of 32 shouldn’t be considered disrespectful to that team. It’s just the opposite.
But if you want to feel disrespected by the power rankings and think they have the Steelers playing an underdog role, so be it. There is an overwhelming chance that the Steelers will lose a game this year, and probably two, three, or four. According to the betting markets, that first loss is expected to come this week to the Ravens. If that happens, guess what? The Steelers will drop in the power rankings. How far they would fall depends on how the game played out. But they would fall nonetheless. And it doesn’t matter.
Whether the Steelers win or lose to the Ravens this week doesn’t change anything about the team.
Here’s what we know about the Steelers: they are a very good team, undeniably one of the best five in the league. If they go into Baltimore and drop a close game to a fellow top-five team coming off a bye, what does that tell us? It doesn’t tell us anything new about the team.
It doesn’t change anything about the level of play they’re capable of. We know they’ll lose a couple of games this year, and we know there are decent odds that one of those losses will come to the Ravens.
The same can be said of the contrary, too. Let’s say the Steelers go into Baltimore and lay the smackdown, winning the game by two scores. That would likely earn them the top spot in all power rankings. But here comes the Grinch again; that, too, wouldn’t change anything we know about the team. It would just confirm to us that they’re a very good team, capable of beating other very good teams.
Their 6-0 record already tells us that, and a convincing win over the Ravens would confirm it. So, why care about what one NFL writer thinks about the team?
Above all else, the power rankings aren’t worth getting worked up over because the state of the league constantly changes. A good team loses a star player to injury and they drop a few games. We saw it with the Patriots; an important piece gets COVID, and the whole team is thrown off.
Or maybe it just comes down to a team being on the wrong end of a few bad calls and losing by a field goal.
Over the course of the season, these instances of volatility don’t really matter. By the time we get to the championship round of the playoffs, the two best teams from each conference will still be playing. And based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s a good chance one of those two teams in the AFC will be the Steelers. That is more fun to think about than a number that a writer slaps on a team.