Saturday, November 6, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Here is where the Pittsburgh Steelers rank in terms of average, best and worst:

  • Average ranking: 14.4 (15th)
  • Best ranking: 13th (CBS Sports)
  • Worst ranking: 16th (The Athletic)

Below you will find a Week 9 roundup for the Steelers in our consensus 2021 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 14

Biggest Achilles' heel: Vertical passing attack

The Steelers are slowly developing into a balanced offense as their run game emerges, but their biggest weakness is obvious: the vertical passing attack, particularly over the middle. Against the Browns, Ben Roethlisberger attempted just three passes of more than 20 air yards and only one between the numbers. Each fell incomplete. Roethlisberger has completed just 25.5% of deep passes since 2020, down from 30.5% between 2016 and 2019, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Relying too heavily on throws within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage risks a one-dimensional attack. A bolstered run game and offensive line will divert just enough to attention to open up more efficient, vertical options -- especially in crunch time. -- Brooke Pryor -- Rank: 14

Playing without their kicker for the final two quarters in a tightly contested and physical AFC North matchup is a recipe for doom, but the Steelers still found a way by relying on some familiar elements: a suffocating defense that wouldn't let the Browns open up their attack, and a quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who made big throws at critical junctures behind a gradually improving offensive line. Now over .500 after a grisly 1-3 start, Pittsburgh gets back-to-back favorable matchups against the Bears and Lions. Win those games, and Mike Tomlin's team could end up in first place as we approach Thanksgiving. Funny how this team always seems to find its footing.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 13

They have turned things around in a big way. The defense, as expected, is leading the way. But the offense is getting better.

USA Today -- Rank: 15

They shouldn't have to run any ill-advised fake field goals the next two weeks with Chicago and Detroit coming to Heinz Field.

The Athletic -- Rank: 16

How's the head coach? All the division titles and playoff appearances are great, but some of Mike Tomlin's steadiest work has been taking Pittsburgh teams that aren't even that good and pushing them into the hunt. After Sunday's gritty win in Cleveland, this year's Steelers -- warts, Big Ben's dying arm and all -- are right there again. Their defense is built for December and January football.

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