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NFL Power Rankings: Pittsburgh Steelers At No. 5

Pittsburgh's defense is as good as ever, meaning the Steelers should be a playoff team, if not a contender to go deep into January. But how good is Mike Tomlin's group as the season starts?

SB Nation's Joel Thorman is enthusiastic about the Steelers, ranking them as a top-five squad in his final rankings before the start of the regular season:

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 7): I'm higher on the Steelers this year than others. I just see the last five years of wins: 12, 12, 9, 12 and 10. Pittsburgh will be an 11-game winner with a top five defense.

A big difference between Pittsburgh at the beginning of the preseason, when the last rankings were made, and the end obviously comes at the wide receiver position. It always seemed certain that Mike Wallace would return to the Steelers after making his point with a long holdout, but the certainty of having a Pro Bowler catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger obviously makes the Steelers seem more potent. They also went 3-1 in the preseason, for whatever that matters.

For more on the Steelers heading into their season-opener, head over to Behind The Steel Curtain and continue to check out SB Nation Pittsburgh.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.