Friday, September 8, 2023

Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1 NFL Power Rankings Roundup

Throughout the 2023 NFL season, we will compile a consensus NFL Power Rankings that averages the rankings of all 32 NFL teams.

Below you will find a Week 1 roundup for the Pittsburgh Steelers in our consensus 2023 NFL Power Rankings.

ESPN -- Rank: 14

On the hot seat: OC Matt Canada

No surprise here that this is a make-or-break season for Canada and his offense. Entering the final year of his contract, Canada has all of the tools -- at least on paper -- to make his offense successful: a second-year quarterback, a wide receiver on the cusp of a breakout season and an overhauled offensive line. The temperature of Canada's seat will cool dramatically if the offense can pick up where it left off at the end of the 2022 season, when QB Kenny Pickett threw five touchdowns to one interception and confidently led back-to-back fourth-quarter game-winning drives. -- Brooke Pryor -- Rank: 14

I'm starting to wonder if this is too low. The Steelers were hot down the stretch last season, winning seven of their last nine games (including four straight at the end), and all they did this preseason was blowtorch their three opponents. The latter must be weighed carefully, but it was hard not to see how fluid and explosive the first-team offense looked (five TDs in five drives). The AFC North should be one of the best divisions, and the 49ers will be a stiff Week 1 test, but the schedule really does lay out nicely for Pittsburgh. All of this depends on Kenny Pickett making a Year 2 jump. Also, the defense needs to give up fewer big plays, but most arrows appear to point upward.

CBS Sports -- Rank: 16

Kenny Pickett appeared to make major strides in the preseason. If that carries over, the Steelers will push for a playoff spot.

USA Today -- Rank: 7

This ranking might seem lofty for a team that went 9-8 in 2022, but you could argue no unit had a better preseason than Pittsburgh's first-team offense. Considering the upgrades on defense, which include a fully healthy T.J. Watt, this could be a club that sneaks up on some folks.

The Athletic -- Rank: 13

Best-case scenario: For the first time, preseason results matter. The offense looks as good as it did this summer, as Kenny Pickett and George Pickens go full Burrow-Ja'Marr Chase and a much-improved offensive line paves the way for a surprise division title. One of the deepest rotations of pass rushers gives Pittsburgh the most sacks in the league, and Minkah Fitzpatrick wins Defensive Player of the Year honors with a ball-hawking masterclass. After the team clinches a first-round bye, offensive coordinator Matt Canada unleashes a fiery I've-got-receipts speech to the doubters that makes Deion Sanders blush.

Worst-case scenario: The plan on offense seems as disjointed as ever, and Pickett and company remain just middling offensively while the rest of the division passes them by. Mike Tomlin retires after his first losing season.

FOX -- Rank: 18

I keep repeating to myself that it's just preseason ball, but man, it was exciting watching Kenny Pickett and George Pickens in August. If those two play like that when the results matter, this is an awfully feisty group. We know the defense is strong. T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick are on the short list of the league's best defenders. If Pickett is merely good, they won't be an easy out. If he's better than that, who knows?

Yahoo! -- Rank: 13

Another key for the Steelers is T.J. Watt is healthy. After Watt came back from injury last season, the Steelers led the NFL in yards allowed per game. Pair that defense with an up-and-coming offense, and there's plenty of reason for Steelers optimism this season.

PFT -- Rank: 13

A month ago, this would have felt high. Currently, it feels low.

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