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ESPN Post-Free-Agency Power Rankings has Steelers as second best AFC team in the NFL

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of a handful of AFC teams who have been projected to represent the conference in Super Bowl 51, but how they rank in ESPN's latest Power Rankings might surprise some.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 NFL season is long gone, and that means the attention is now 100-percent focused on the upcoming NFL Draft and the 2016 season. A lot can change after just one season -- just ask the Denver Broncos; however, for the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite losing pieces like Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller, the team seems to keep chugging along.

After Super Bowl 50, the Steelers were considered one of three teams favored to win Super Bowl 51, according to Las Vegas. Although the odds have shifted with retirements and Free Agency, in the eyes of the experts the Steelers remain a team to be reckoned with next season.

In fact, in ESPN's latest Post-Free-Agency Power Rankings, the Steelers are considered to be the second best AFC team behind the New England Patriots. Not only are they the second highest ranked AFC team, but they are clearly considered the class of the AFC North going into next season as well - the other three teams who call the AFC North home are all ranked behind Pittsburgh.

As for the official ranking, the Steelers are 5th in the poll, behind only the top-seeded Patriots in terms of AFC rankings. How do they compare with AFC and NFC teams? Take a look at the Top 10:

1. New England Patriots
2. Carolina Panthers
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Green Bay Packers
7. Denver Broncos
8. Cincinnati Bengals
9. Kansas City Chiefs
10. Minnesota Vikings

The Steelers' 5th place ranking is a one position improvement from ESPN's Pre-Free-Agency rankings. Naturally, there will be new Power Rankings after the NFL Draft, but it seems safe to say the Steelers are a team the "experts" will be gushing over this offseason, but as fans of the black and gold know all too well...a lot needs to happen (like staying healthy) for the team to truly contend for their 7th Lombardi trophy.