Pittsburgh Steelers: The Team in the Power Rankings After Week 3

Dan Snyder@@dsnyder34Correspondent ISeptember 26, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Derek Hagan #10 of the Oakland Raiders on his way to a seventeen yard gain stiff arms Ryan Mundy #29 of the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Raiders won the game 34-31. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Every week, BR's Lead NFL Draft Writer, Matt Miller, releases his official Power Rankings for the site. And with this week being no different, we'll get right down to it. The Steelers took a major gut-punch Sunday afternoon after blowing a fourth quarter lead to, of all teams, the Oakland Raiders. So let's see what Miller has to say.

Miller's Rank: 13 (Last Week: 9)

My Rank: 15 (Last Week: 8)

Miller's take: Before the season my prediction for the Pittsburgh Steelers was 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Their 1-2 start is reinforcing that belief.

The Steelers had every chance to win in Week 3, but they let the Oakland Raiders get back in the game. The problems are two-fold for Pittsburgh: The offense is too conservative and the defense has too many holes (the same issues we pointed out in the preseason).

Injuries are an issue right now, but there's no guarantee that James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Rashard Mendenhall will be the difference-makers the team hopes they can be upon their return. If and when remains to be seen.

My take: Before the year, I didn't agree with Miller's preseason prediction of the Steelers finishing 8-8. But seeing the team on the road this season, maybe he's on to something. 

Like Miller said, the team had every chance to beat the Raiders on Sunday, including a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and just couldn't put the team away. One of the biggest reasons is because of a defense that bled like a sieve.

Pittsburgh has always been known for its defensive prowess. Recently, players have suggested the team has become quite predictable. With the way Palmer and the Raiders moved the ball on them Sunday, that might not be a far reach.

Granted, the defensive unit is without two All-Pros in safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison, who are both impact players. But the question remains: Is this Steelers defense still among the league's elite?

Pittsburgh also has some major issues with their running game. They have yet to reach 200 team rush yards on the season, and have managed only a pedestrian 2.6 yards per carry.  

On a positive note, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has looked like a world-beater in the team's first three games. Big Ben has gotten off to maybe his best start, throwing for 904 yards, 8 touchdowns and only one interception in 120 attempts.

It's not all gloom and doom for the Steelers just yet. The team enters their Week 4 bye with a chance to get some much needed rest and get healthy. If the Steelers can return to form defensively, they'll again be contenders in the AFC.


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