Steelers Power Rankings: Week 9

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a bye week and heading into the second half of the season. Sitting at 4-3, they will look to have a better second half in hopes of holding onto the AFC North.

NFL.com: No. 11

Last Week: No. 12

“Bye this past weekend for a Steelers team that sorely needed it. Besides enduring significant injuries, this group has dropped two games in a row for the first time since last year at this time (Weeks 7 and 8). Landry Jones started one of those games before Ben Roethlisberger came back off injury the next game. Speaking of, Big Ben‘s definitely said all the right things to set up the storyline where he’s the tough protagonist coming back earlier than people expect, i.e., against the Ravens on Sunday. Shocking.” -Elliot Harrison

One thing is definitely true. This bye week came at the perfect time for Pittsburgh. While the football gods burdened the team with injuries all season, they blessed us with a break to help heal up in preparation for a rigorous second half to the year.

Pittsburgh is coming off a sore two-game losing streak but a lot of it has been due to injuries. With Roethlisberger participating in practice, it’d be hard to convince anyone that he isn’t planning to suit up this weekend. We’ve all seen this before.

Besides Roethlisberger, Defensive End Cameron Heyward who has been dismayed by the play by the defense in recent weeks has a chance of returning and making an immediate impact. While the Offensive Line has handled injuries well, Marcus Gilbert‘s return is another underrated one that could mean a lot, especially since they will be potentially protecting a banged up Big Ben.

The small bump up in the rankings was only due to the performance by Arizona against the ailing Panthers.

Oct 16, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) looks on in the game against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN: No. 8

Last Week: No. 8

“The Steelers have dipped a bit in the rankings since the start of the season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s absence hasn’t helped. Let the record show: Steelers QBs not named Roethlisberger are 1-6 against the Ravens (Pittsburgh’s Week 9 opponent) since he became the starter.”

The Steelers have yet to really live up to the preseason hype. This offense was supposed to be an unstoppable force and the defense was supposed to be very improved.

The defense has definitely shown improvement and actually rank in the top 10 in points allowed (which in the end, is probably the most important stat). The last two weeks, however, have been absolutely dreadful for this defense and a run defense that has been typically strong has been completely dismantled. Heyward’s return could help.

Another thing to note is that this offense really hasn’t played very much together. In the two games this season where Ben, Brown, and Bell were all healthy (discluding the Miami game since Roethlisberger got hurt), the team scored a total of 74 points in routs of the Chiefs and Jets.

If Landry Jones suits up against the Ravens, it would be highly disappointing. Jones actually played unexpectedly well against the Patriots, but still isn’t close to what Roethlisberger brings to this offense which is what the Steelers need in this important division showdown.

Oct 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin yells to an official during the first half against the New England Patriots at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports: No. 10

Last Week: No. 9

“The Steelers got a much-needed week off, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to recover from knee surgery. He was already back at practice Monday, which means there’s a good chance he’ll go against the Ravens this week.” -Cameron DaSilva

All the news is surrounding Ben Roethlisberger right now. He is the most important player on the Steelers offense. He might not be the most explosive and he might not be considered the best at his position like Bell and Brown might, but he is the most important.

Roethlisberger makes everything work. Without him, the offense looks dysfunctional, and can’t reach near the potential it has when Roethlisberger is on the field. This game against Baltimore could very well outline to rest of the season for the AFC North.

With the AFC West dominating the league this year, it might be division win or nothing. A tight Wild Card race might not be an option for Pittsburgh, and beating division opponents is the best thing to do to get set up for a playoff spot.

There’s a big gap between Jones and Roethlisberger, and that gap might be the difference between playoffs and football ending in December. Only team surpassing Pittsburgh this week? The Oakland Raiders, and no one can fault DaSilva for that.

Oct 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) breaks off of the line of scrimmage against New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. New England won 27-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Yahoo Sports: No. 9

Last Week: No. 10

“Ben Roethlisberger was participating a bit at practice on Monday. You knew he’d be back ahead of the timetable he had from a knee injury.” – Frank Schwab

Rightfully so, every power ranking blurb mentions Ben Roethlisberger. He is so instrumental to this team, and in such an important game, he is vital.

Did anyone really expect Ben Roethlisberger to adhere to the 4-6 week timetable he was given? Come on. A torn meniscus? This is the man that went out against the Denver in the playoffs last year with torn ligaments in his shoulder and threw like he didn’t have a scratch.

Take the normal timetable of an NFL player and divide that by two or three. That’s what Ben Roethlisberger does. He’s tough as anyone and he has a strange ability to play well through injury. While the risk of reinjuring is always a concern, Roethlisberger should be able to tough it out as he’s always done.

If the game against the Patriots was a playoff game, you better believe Ben would have been out there firing the ball down the field and still breaking tackles in the pocket, limp and all. It’s hard to believe he’ll miss a critical divisional matchup, but it’s too early to say.

Oct 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53) prepares to snap the ball against the New England Patriots defense during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. New England won 27-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Author’s Opinion: No. 8

Last Week: No. 9

The Steelers do take a slight jump on my power rankings.

The Patriots, Cowboys, Broncos, Falcons, Chiefs, Raiders, and Vikings still rate above Pittsburgh in my books. The only team to drop below the Steelers this week on my power rankings would be the Packers. While their game against Atlanta was very close, they now drop to 4-3 like the Steelers but just haven’t really gotten things together and have bigger concerns (run game?)

The Steelers are in a good position right now. The losses to the Eagles and the Dolphins hurt. The loss to New England still stung, but it was expected without Roethlisberger playing. Pittsburgh is still on top of the AFC North and with a win over the Ravens, will be set up extremely well to ride through the rest of the season and into the playoffs.

This game might be more pivotal then it may seem, but at the same time, the Steelers will still be okay if they can’t pull it out. Here’s to hoping Roethlisberger can suit up and is ready to go. Wouldn’t mind seeing Heyward and Gilbert out there either.

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