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Steelers projected as the top AFC team, per Pro Football Focus

Everyone knows the Pittsburgh Steelers have potential, but how do they rank among other AFC teams? PFF has them as the top team in the conference.

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Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Pro football focus released its AFC projections for the 2016 season, with the Steelers garnering the top spot. For those wondering, the Arizona Cardinals topped the list in their NFC projections. While some may dislike how PFF handles their player grades, the site is one of the more respected in NFL fan circles. PFF rankings are based on how efficiently a player performs while he is on the field, not just his stats. Since 22 NFL teams are said to be using their premium stats, I am not inclined to disagree.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (projected record: 13-3)

Entering the 2015 season playoffs, the Steelers were the team that no one wanted to face. It took Peyton Manning’s best game of the second half of the season to knock the Steelers out, but the team should be improved in 2016. Le’Veon Bell was the highest-graded running back in the league before he went down with injury, and is likely to be the best next season, as well. At center, they bring back a healthy Maurkice Pouncey, who was a top-five center in 2014, and was replaced by Cody Wallace, who was a bottom-five center in 2015. If the Steelers can just stay healthy, they have the most talent among AFC teams that are likely to be postseason competitors.

PFF points out the important keys for success in 2016 are Bell remaining healthy and Pouncey's reinsertion back into the Steelers' line. DeAngelo Williams was a solid replacement for Bell in 2015, but there was still a downgrade. The return of Pouncey is the greater of the two. While Wallace was an asset in the running game, he was a liability in the passing game which required help blocking and destabilized the line. Do not forget that Pouncey is a two-time All-Pro for a reason.

PFF's top 10 in AFC

1. Pittsburgh (13-3)

2. New England (12-4)

3. Oakland (11-5)

4. Cincinnati (11-5)

5. Denver (10-6)

6. Kansas City (9-7)

7. Houston (8-8)

8. Baltimore (8-8)

9. Buffalo (8-8)

10. Jacksonville (8-8)

PFF's top 10 in NFC

1. Arizona (12-4)

2. Seattle (12-4)

3. Carolina (11-5)

4. Green Bay (12-5)

5. Minnesota (10-6)

6. Dallas (9-7)

7. Washington (9-7)

8. Chicago (8-8)

9. New York Giants (8-8)

10. Falcons (8-8)