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NFL Power Rankings, Week 17: Like the playoff picture, the Steelers are on the outside looking in

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The Pittsburgh Steelers were a unanimous Top 5 team heading into the regular season, and as the team approaches the final week of the regular season they realize their ranking, and playoff chances, aren’t good.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The only consistent aspect of the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the season were their inconsistencies.

After an opening week tie with the Cleveland Browns, followed by a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers had shown it all — amazing offense, head-scratching play calling and shoddy defense, among others.

Needless to say, the Steelers experienced a precipitous drop in the weekly NFL Power Rankings because of their poor play which resulted in a 0-1-1 record heading into Week 3. However, a 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football had the Steelers on the rise. Right on cue, the next week they suffered a 26-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football, the Pittsburgh roller coaster was again on the decline.

Have no fear Steelers fans, a dominant performance in Week 5 vs. the Atlanta Falcons in followed by a big win over the Cincinnati Bengals had the team continuing on their upward trend. Or as Mike Tomlin would say, “The arrow is pointing up.”

Inconsistent was the theme early with this team, but they seemed to have been rectified this after beating the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 and the Carolina Panthers in Week 10, extending their winning streak to five straight games. A narrow victory in Jacksonville over the Jaguars has moved the Steelers’ win streak to six games, and continued their ascent in the weekly rankings.

What followed has been more losing than winning, capped off by an absolute heart-wrenching defeat to the New Orleans Saints in Week 16.

In reality, these power rankings mean nothing, but they’re great for conversation and debate. This week, the Steelers saw themselves not just in the Top 10, but back in the Top 5.

Check out the rankings, and let us know what you think in the comment section below!

ESPN

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Los Angeles Rams
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Los Angeles Chargers
5. Chicago Bears
6. New England Patriots
7. Houston Texans
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Seattle Seahawks
10. Indianapolis Colts
...
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Non-QB MVP: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, who edges WR Antonio Brown and LB T.J. Watt in a close race. Brown is a natural selection because of the defensive attention he draws, but Smith-Schuster has been the Steelers’ most consistent option all season, leading the team in catches (106), yards (1,389) and targets (156). He consistently made big plays, including two of 75 or more yards. Brown produced another 100-catch season and Watt led the team with 12 sacks, but Smith-Schuster’s multifaceted role in the slot and outside helped the offense hum without Le’Veon Bell.”

NFL.com

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Chicago Bears
3. Los Angeles Rams
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. Baltimore Ravens
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. New England Patriots
8. Indianapolis Colts
9. Seattle Seahawks
10. Houston Texans
...
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
“The wild affair down in New Orleans on Sunday surely will go down as a Game of the Year candidate. Maybe not for Steelers fans, who have a right to be disappointed with a couple of close calls. The most questionable? The DPI on Joe Haden late in the first quarter, when Alvin Kamara clearly elevated at the wrong time, as opposed to being interfered with. Even Deuce McAllister onthe Saints’ broadcast mentioned that Kamara mistimed his jump. So many other sequences were part and parcel of a tough loss to swallow: the decision not to pressure Brees on third-and-20 with the game on the line, the fake punt call on fourth-and-5 on their own 42-yard line (didn’t mind it), or JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fumble with 41 seconds remaining. Bear this in mind: Pittsburgh gave the premier team in the league a helluva game and probably should’ve won. Now, if you are wondering where that effort was in Oakland two weeks ago, this space has prepared no retort.”

CBS Sports

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Los Angeles Rams
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Chicago Bears
5. New England Patriots
6. Baltimore Ravens
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Indianapolis Colts
9. Dallas Cowboys
10. Seattle Seahawks
...
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
“It’s hard to believe they need a victory this week and help to even make the playoffs. It just doesn’t seem right.”