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ESPN Power Rankings have the Pittsburgh Steelers as the second best AFC team

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are primed for a big 2016 season, but according to the experts at ESPN they are the second best AFC team heading into next season.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the 2016 season, most fans are talking about how the road to Super Bowl 51 needs to go through the Steel City, and not a series of road trips. Of course, such as task is far easier said than done. How do the Steelers add up to their peers in the AFC? ESPN's latest post-NFL Draft Power Rankings have the Steelers as the second best AFC team in the NFL.

The team they have ranked higher is the same team they have as the best team in the league. The oh-so-hated New England Patriots.

However, the rankings don't show the Patriots at No. 1, and the Steelers at No. 2. In fact, they have the Steelers ranked 6th overall, with NFC teams separating the two AFC power houses.

Take a look at ESPN's Top 10:

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

Power rankings are nothing more than a group of individuals putting their spin on who they think is the best, and worst, team in the NFL. But it does help pass the time in an otherwise slow offseason. Fans love to debate, and the debate between the best team in the NFL has never been closer.

In years past, the Patriots were far and away the best team on paper, but this year with the Panthers, Cardinals and Steelers all surging heading into 2016, the gap is clearly closing for the Patriots. Great teams always re-tool, but the Patriots are the only team who can accomplish this task.

ESPN might have the Patriots at the top of the list, and better than the Steelers, but when the dust settles in 2016 it will be interesting to see who has the last laugh.