After an impressive come from behind victory over the Houston Texans, the Steelers are sitting comfortably atop the AFC North at 3-0. Alongside them, the league's other undefeated teams include the Chiefs, Titans, Bills, Packers, Seahawks, and Bears. Many of these teams were expected to be undefeated at this point in the season and are likely to be vying for the Lombardi trophy come January. While these are probably not the seven best teams in the league, they currently lead the standings and are in the best position to make the playoffs. With that said, I am going to do my best to rank each of the remaining undefeated teams, and examine how the Steelers compare to each them.
The Bears are perhaps the most surprising team to be on this list after rattling off three wins to start the season. Their most impressive victory came this past week, when quarterback Nick Foles came off the bench to lead a 16 point 4th quarter comeback. It seems unlikely that the Bears will remain unbeaten, with difficult games against the Colts, Rams, and Buccaneers coming up in the next 4 weeks, but they deserve credit for what they've been able to put together so far. When comparing them to the Steelers, they are actually built fairly similarly: a very strong front 7 backed by a solid secondary and an offense that has shown flashes of greatness, but lacks consistency. However, until the Bears can show that they can compete with stronger competition, and show better balance on both sides of the ball, they will remain at the bottom of this list.
The Steelers week 4 opponent is the the next team on this list after narrowly winning their first three games by a combined 6 points. Following a rough start to the season, Stephen Gostkowski has been a huge part of the Titans success, kicking a game winning field goal in every game so far. In addition to special teams, Tennessee has enjoyed strong starts by both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, two players for whom the Steelers will need to spend a lot of time game planning for this week. The main thing lacking from this team is star talent; outside of Henry and Tannehill, they don't have many players who standout on either side of the ball. Still, they are much more consistent than many of the NFL's teams and, considering how impressive they were at the end of last season, are capable of great things. I need to see them defeat some tougher competition before I can truly believe in this team, though, and they will certainly have the chance to do so with games against the Steelers, Bills, and Texans on the horizon.
5. Buffalo Bills
The Bills entered the season as a favorite to both win the East and compete for a top seed in the AFC. So far, they have done just that, knocking off the Jets, Dolphins, and Rams respectively. Defensively, they haven't dominated as they did in many of their games last year, but offensively, they have taken off, currently averaging 31 points per game. Josh Allen is playing at an MVP level, throwing for over 300 yards in each game, and has already established a strong connection with offseason acquisition Stefon Diggs. At the running back position, they present a strong 1-2 punch in the form of Devin Singletary and rookie Zack Moss. If the Bills can figure out things on the defensive side of the ball, they have a great shot at winning their next two games and entering their week 6 matchup against the Chiefs at 5-0. They are probably the closest team to the Steelers right now in terms of both talent and coaching, and the main reason that I have them ranked lower is because of their atrocious second half last week. In fact, they were incredibly lucky to escape with a win, which wouldn't have been possible without a late pass interference call in their favor. The next two weeks, in which they take on the Raiders and Titans, will be great indicators of whether this team is for real.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
As much as I'd love to put the Steelers at the top of this list, they haven't done well enough to merit it just yet. While at times they have looked dominant on both sides of the ball, they haven't yet been able to put together four strong quarters of football in any of their games. Against the Giants, it was a slow start that included a fumbled punt and giving up a long touchdown pass. In week 2, it was a rough third quarter that saw a 14-point lead disappear almost instantly. And finally, last week it was a disastrous first half in which the defense allowed the Texans to score three touchdowns seemingly without breaking a sweat. Still, I'd rather not focus on the negatives when this team has shown so many things to be excited about. Ben Roethlisberger is back to playing at a Pro Bowl level, and James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster have returned to their 2018 forms. The defense has held opponents to just 2.7 yards per carry, the lowest total in the NFL, and has already racked up 15 sacks, also good for best in the league. If the offense and defense can work in sync, rather than be forced to bail each other out on a weekly basis, this team will be scary come playoff time. The Steelers championship window may be closing, but they seem ready to take advantage of it while they still can.
The Packers seemed destined for a decline this year after getting decimated by the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Thus far, they have shown no signs of doing so. Aaron Rodgers has the offense rolling and averaging over 40 points per game. They haven't had to play any top tier defenses just yet, but nevertheless that number is beyond impressive. On the defensive side of the ball, Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage lead a strong secondary that has already already intercepted both Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford and held each to around 250 yards. The rush defense that was exploited by multiple teams last year has looked at least average, if not better, and they are getting decent pressure on the quarterback with 8 sacks on the year. This team has earned this spot on the list, simply outplaying their opponents week in and week out in every facet of the game. So far, there has been no reason to believe that the Packers won't find themselves back in the NFC Championship this year, but getting past the next team on this list will be an extremely difficult task.
What can't Russel Wilson do? The super bowl winning quarterback has turned a relatively average roster into one of the league's best teams. He has thrown for four or more touchdowns and posted a passer rating above 130.0 in all three games so far, connecting on seemingly every throw he attempts. Wilson has never been surrounded by strong offensive weapons, and now that he has some in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, he is playing at the level many knew he was capable of. The Seahawks defense, however, has not enjoyed the same success. The unit that was expected to drastically improve after the arrival of safety Jamal Adams has allowed allowed 30+ points in two out of the their three games thus far. They are fortunate that they are backed by such an impressive offense, and will need to improve if the Seahawks are to remain this high on the list. But, for the time being, Seattle has earned its rank among the NFL's best teams, and Steelers fans should consider themselves lucky that they will not have to face Seattle for another 3 years (pending a Super Bowl appearance).
1. Kansas City Chiefs
There were some questions about whether or not Kansas City would have any sort of Super Bowl hangover, especially after their disappointing performance against the Chargers in week 2. They were put to bed this past week, when the Chiefs dominated the Ravens in every stage of the game. In just three season, Patrick Mahomes is already being compared to some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and we will surely continue to add to his accolades over the next few seasons. The addition of rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire adds another element to an offense that already included Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce. Even the Chiefs defense looks improved from past years, especially after they completely shut down the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, holding him to under 100 passing yards. Fortunately for the Steelers, the one way to beat them seems to be to put constant pressure on Mahomes, and keep the Chiefs offense in check. There isn't a team in the league that can beat the Chiefs in a shootout, but if you can collapse the pocket and slow Mahomes down, you might just have a chance. For now, be glad the Steelers don't play them in the regular season, but come playoff time, don't be surprised if Pittsburgh finds themselves heading to Kansas City as a heavy underdog.
So what do you think of my rankings? And how do you think the Steelers compare to the other remaining undefeated teams? Let us know in the comments.