After a free agency period largely considered a success, and a draft most considered one of the best in the NFL, the Steelers managed to fall three positions, from 14 to 17, in ESPN's latest Power Rankings.
The rankings, given by ESPN writers John Clayton, Ashley Fox, Dan Graziano, Jamison Hensley, Mike Sando and Kevin Seifert, were the first of 2014. The last one they released was on Dec. 31, meaning the most recent one takes into account all offseason activity to this point.
Obviously it's not a surprise, in a league that hasn't seen a repeat champion in over 10 years and the previous Super Bowl champion failed to win a playoff game the past eight years, the defending champion Seattle Seahawks are ranked No. 1. The Steelers are behind Cincinnati (10) and Baltimore (13) with the Cleveland Browns sitting last in the NFL.
After an outstanding draft, and a hole-filling free agency period, the Steelers are able to add to the momentum they left at the end of the 2013 season. They won six of their final eight games, and nearly qualified for the playoffs. If the improvements they made this offseason pale in comparison to other teams, then ok, it's just a poll anyway, but the fact they're not being favored by some now will ultimately come back into question at the start of the season.