PFT continued the release of its preseason power rankings of NFL teams over the weekend. The rankings have been rather unsurprising for the most part – with a few head scratchers being the Eagles at #8, Lions at #13 (they should be better), and the Cowboys at #14 (they should be worse). Two AFC North teams were announced this weekend. The Steelers came in at #6 and the Ravens came in at #5.
I like to pride myself as an anti-homer, and I’d be a total hypocrite if I said that the Ravens didn’t deserve to jump ahead of the Black & Gold before the season started. Even though the Ravens have lost Suggs for a large chunk of the season and some other key players, they were able to sign Ray Rice to a long term contract – hold out crisis avoided. They lost some other key players on their roster, but their two victories over the Steelers in the regular season and their deep playoff run put them over the top. For now.
It still burns my rear when I see the breakdown of what is considered ‘strengths’ and weaknesses’ for the team. Calling rookie offensive linemen liabilities since they haven’t started a game, yet not looking at who was there in the first place before them is a huge underestimation. Thinking that the loss of Aaron Smith and having to use tested backups like Ziggy Hood is enough to make you bite your nails over is a lack of understanding of how this defense prides itself on ‘starters in waiting.’ To assume that Max Starks will more than likely win out the job at left tackle and then to think that somehow Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert will duke it out for the spot at right tackle shows a bit of the cray cray that a rookie who barely ever played the right side would be competing for the job against the second year man who played very well as a rookie himself.
Rankings like this are all pretty subjective with only a few concrete pieces of evidence that truly defines a particular line up of team. So, even though I believe that PFT go the Steelers right at #6 and the Ravens right at #5 – the reasoning behind such is suspect.
That leaves the Giants, Packers, 49’ers, and Patriots as the top 4 ranked teams going into camp. No surprises there considering three out of those four were in the conference championship games. Of course, preseason rankings are just that – preseason rankings. The performance on the field always dictates who the winners and losers are. I guess it’s nice to feel that even with all the changes taking place over this offseason the Steelers are still one of the elite teams in the league. After all, they still have one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, one of the elite defenders, and a core of great coaching.