Steelers Power Rankings: Week 17

The Pittsburgh Steelers are playoff-bound and riding higher than ever heading into the Season’s finale.

The Steelers once again stunned the football world with another come from behind victory to seal the deal and punch a ticket to the postseason this Sunday.

In dramatic fashion, the Steelers have now won six-straight and have been talked about as one of the top contenders and biggest threats to New England’s seemingly dominance in the AFC.

Now the King of the North, how high are the Steelers around the entire league?

NFL.com: No. 3

Last Week: No. 5

“Watching Le’Veon Bell run is like hearing live albums of Bob Seger, Springsteen or even Guns N’ Roses. The set list is often different, the rhythm slightly off from the studio album, and maybe Sebastian Bach shows up for a carry — er, to carry a tune for Axl. Yet, at the end of the day, you know “Welcome to the Jungle” is coming, brother. Bell’s stutter-step, explode-then-slow-down-then-accelerate-again is as frustrating for defenders to stop as it is exhilarating for us to watch. While other Steelers made the occasional play, Bell steadily put up 137 yards from scrimmage, inching him ever closer to 2,000 … despite missing the first three games of the season. He needs just 116 yards to hit that mark. With apologies to a couple of NFC guys, Bell might be the best running back in football. The best wide receiver in football was getting wrapped up with seconds to go at Heinz Field on Sunday, his outstretched arm clinching the AFC North title.” – Elliot Harrison

After being one of the biggest sticklers when it came to the Steelers all season (and rightfully so), Harrison has them in the top 3, and mostly because of Le’Veon Bell.

Bell was just named the Steelers’ team MVP and rightfully so. Since returning from his suspension early in the season, he’s been unstoppable. He’s now in 2nd in the league in rushing yards, leads the league in receptions for a running back and he has played fewer games than most backs. It’s really unbelievable.

Since taking a more conservative run-first approach to the offense, the Steelers have been unbeaten, winning their last six with the new strategy that they adopted following a loss against Dallas.

Barring injury, Bell gives the Steelers a true opportunity to make a title run and could be argued as the most dangerous team in the AFC and most likely to dethrone the Patriots.

ESPN: No. 5

Last Week: No. 7

“During the Steelers’ six-game winning streak, Le’Veon Bell has averaged 181.8 scrimmage yards per game and scored seven touchdowns. He has averaged 5.2 yards per rush in that stretch as well. So in other words: Bell is good. He’ll try to add to those numbers against the Browns in Week 17.”

Unfortunately for the stat books, Bell will be sitting out the Browns game. Though, that’s a smart move. Considering he’s probably the most important part of this offense and has been injured in seasons past, maybe it’s time to give him a little rest so that he can get ready for the playoff run.

ESPN isn’t as high on Pittsburgh this week, a team that they had at the top of their chart during their downfalls and then started to drop them more once they started winning. Strange. But still, the Steelers crack the top 5 and rightfully so.

With Derek Carr injured for the Raiders, and Matt Moore and Tom Savage both starting for their teams, are the Steelers the 2nd best team in the AFC? Maybe not. The Chiefs are definitely another team to keep an eye on, and depending on how Sunday goes, they could be in the Steelers’ way right out of the gates.

That being said, we crushed the Chiefs in Week 4 earlier this season. But things have changed drastically since then.

Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) has his fasemask grabbed while he extends the ball across the goal line to score the game winning touchdown against Baltimore Ravens strong safety Eric Weddle (32) in the fourth quarter. The Steelers won 31-27 at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports: No. 3

Last Week: No. 6

“The Steelers barely topped the Ravens for the AFC North title, but a win’s a win. They’re now locked into the No. 3 seed so Week 17 is meaningless for them. Considering the conference’s quarterback situation, the Steelers are among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.” – Cameron DaSilva

A game of inches.

The Steelers barely reached (pun intended) the postseason this year with an amazing play that is being hailed as a Steeler classic already. Get ready to tell your children and your children’s children about the great immaculate extension and Antonio Brown’s last second heroics.

With that, the Steelers have been thrown into an interesting playoff picture. The Chiefs, Patriots, and Steelers are the only AFC teams with quarterbacks that have any playoff experience at all, and Roethlisberger and Brady are the only ones with real playoff substance under their belt (Not quite yet, Alex Smith).

The Texans once again won their division due to the subpar teams while the Raiders and Dolphins have both lost their starting quarterbacks late in the season. Can the Dolphins run game carry them through the post season and can Matt McGloin be a hero in Oakland? Probably not, but we’ll see.

Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Cobi Hamilton (83) looks to make a move on Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Zach Orr (54) after making a catch during the fourth quarter of a game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Yahoo Sports: No. 5

Last Week: No. 7

“The Steelers probably had enough time to spike the ball if Antonio Brown didn’t stretch over the goal line. But if they didn’t, that play is all we’d be talking about all week. “Risky” doesn’t begin to cover it. It worked though.” – Frank Schwab

Yes, the Steelers probably would have been able to spike the ball and get another play off, but it would have been fourth and goal and who knows what would have happened.

The play reminded me a lot of the Super Bowl. While it was more of an in route drag than a slant, the moment the ball came out of Ben’s hand, I thought that the Ravens might jump in and snatch it like Malcolm Butler, devastating all fans for the rest of the year.

Luckily, Antonio Brown was there with his sure hands to catch the ball. Then, I looked at the clock, thinking that he was going to be taken down at the 1, and the game would be forced into overtime or the Steelers would have to do a fun little wildcat play like San Diego in 2015.

The reason fans in Pittsburgh have to love Antonio Brown is the fighter in him. He is a small, 5’10” receiver who has gone above and beyond all expectations his entire life, and has proven that he is as big a competitor as any. With big, strong men barrelling down on him, he did not relent, and he pushed the Steelers into the promised land. It honestly left me with tears in my eyes.

On a side note, did anyone see Ramon Foster nail Brown at the end of the play? That was interesting. Glad he got to spike the ball.

Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Demarcus Ayers (15) stiff arms Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (36) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Author’s Opinion: No. 3

Last Week: No. 5

I think the Steelers are primed for a Super Bowl run.

With how the AFC is laid out, the Steelers have a path to the Super Bowl through two backup quarterbacks and New England. I would love to see a Steelers vs Cowboys rematch on Super Bowl Sunday, but we’ll just have to see how the cards fall.

The Steelers have finished the season in amazing fashion, boasting the best win streak in the league alongside New England. Those two teams seem to be on a collision course for each other and what a spectacular fireworks show that would be.

Tom Brady vs Ben Roethlisberger. Two of the best quarterbacks of this decade. Doesn’t get much better than that. In the meantime, let’s take it one game at a time.

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