They did it in a round-about way, but regarding the NFL power rankings, the Steelers ended the 2016 regular season where everyone pretty much thought they would: among the elite.
After winning their seventh-straight over Cleveland on Sunday–a 27-24 thriller in overtime at Heinz Field–the Steelers finished the regular season third in the power rankings, at least according to NFL.com.
Here is the always opinionated Elliot Harrison’s take on Pittsburgh’s current state as the playoff are about to kickoff this weekend:
“Hey, that season finale may not have mean jackyounowwhat, but how about that dime Landry Jones dropped in the bucket for the walk-off? (Toss-off?) The whole team responded after a lackadaisical start that saw the Browns go up 14-0 early and dominate much of the engagement. Such is meaningless Week 17 football. That won’t be the case when the Dolphins comes to town this weekend. One last note: Loved hearing Mike Mitchell gripe to the officials about a bogus facemask call late. He was crazy angry–well, what a priest sounds like when he gets angry, anyway. “Oh, my goodness gracious! Oh, my goodness gracious! Goodness gracious. I liked it so much I got the phrase in myself. (see: the Patriots blurb above).”
Power Rankings: Playoff addition
QB Rankings:: Who’s riding highest into the playoffs?
Winners and Losers:: Who came out on top to open up 2017?
As for ESPN.com, the World Wide Leader also has the Steelers in third place, with the postseason about to kickoff and adds this interesting little nugget about their three main offensive weapons:
“Believe it or not, the wild-card round will be the first time QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown all take the field together in the playoffs. The playoffs are 28-14 (.667) when all three have played together since 2013 (8-3 this season).”
As ESPN.com pointed out, and as I’m sure you’re aware, the really interesting part of Pittsburgh’s ranking is that, unlike the Chiefs (ranked fourth), is the team doesn’t have a bye this week and will have to play three games in-order to reach the Super Bowl.
But, again, maybe the final power rankings mirror the Steelers season as a whole: They were expected to battle the Patriots for the AFC crown, and that’s what everyone is now predicting with the playoffs about to start.
It’s not how you start (or play in the middle, actually), it’s how you finish.