Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the ball after making a reception against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Week 4 NFL Power Rankings: Steelers A Consensus Top-10 Team

The Steelers move up to No. 4 in SB Nation's power rankings after a narrow victory against the Colts.

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4 Total Updates since September 27, 2011
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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings: Steelers Drop, Says ESPN, Due To Poor Offensive Line

Everyone seems to agree the Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of room for improvement--specifically with their running game--following their 23-20 win against the Indianapolis Colts, yet SB Nation, CBS, and Fox all moved the Steelers ahead in their power rankings anyway. What makes ESPN's just-published power rankings unique, then, is its voters' decision to bump the Steelers down, from 9th last week to 10th this week. "The Steelers must fix their offensive line if they plan to make another deep playoff run," says James Walker, echoing CBS's Pete Prisco.

Further, there's a wide disparity between ESPN's panel of power-rankings voters with regard to how they feel about the Steelers. John Clayton ranked them 15th on his ballot, for example, but Ashley Fox had them at 6th.

What's clear is that Pittsburgh has problems it needs to address, but it doesn't appear as though there's a consensus as to how successful they'll be in fixing those problems as the season wears on.

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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings: Steelers' Offensive Line Exposed, Says CBS

Through three games, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a 2-1 record, good enough for a share of the AFC North lead. Their 23-20 win against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night proved harder than expected--Pittsburgh needed a fumble return for a touchdown and a field goal with four seconds remaining to avoid losing to hapless Indianapolis--but it's a win nonetheless. Pete Prisco, CBS's senior NFL columnist, even saw fit to move the Steelers up from last week in his NFL power rankings, but just barely.

Prisco ranked the Steelers 10th last week and has them at 7th following the win at Indianapolis. His take, though, is that Pittsburgh, like the rest of the so-called "power teams," has had its flaws exposed so far this season. He points the finger not at running back Rashard Mendenhall--averaging just three yards per carry so far, with one rushing touchdown--but instead at the Steelers' offensive line. "The offensive line issues have to be remedied," he says. "It won't be easy to do that at Houston this week."

In a way, struggling this early in the season can benefit a team in the long run, as it gives teams a strong indicator of what they need to address in order to improve. "The teams that fix their issues best coming out of October will be sitting pretty," Prisco writes. If the Steelers can toughen up their offensive line, they'll indeed be in great shape.

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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings: Steelers Move Up After Narrow Win

On balance, the Pittsburgh Steelers probably should not have needed a last-second field goal from Shaun Suisham to put away the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts on Sunday evening. But they did need that field goal, and nonetheless improved to 2-1 on the season with the road victory.

The win was enough for Fox Sports analyst Brian Billick to move the Steelers up to no. 4 in his NFL Power Rankings, but clearly he has some reservations about Pittsburgh at this point in the young season. "The Steelers of old would have put this one away early," he notes. Billick also takes issue with the Steelers' use of the run game, saying, "I'd like to see them committed to the run even when its [sic] not particularly effective from a statistical standpoint."

Against the winless Colts, Pittsburgh ran the ball 28 times for 67 yards for a putrid 2.4-yard average. Indianapolis did a particularly effective job bottling up lead back Rashard Mendenhall, limiting him to 37 yards on 18 carries. And as Michael Bean of SB Nation's Behind the Steel Curtain points out, one of Mendenhall's carries went for 15 yards, "which for us non-math majors means his other 17 attempts went for a grand total of 22 yards." It's easy to see why Bean listed "Run Game" in the "Ugly" department in his latest "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" post.

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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings: Steelers At No. 4

The Steelers move up to No. 4 in SB Nation's power rankings after a narrow victory against the Colts.

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