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2012 NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Steelers trending down after losses

The Pittsburgh Steelers are falling in power rankings after losing two straight to put them at .500. They need a win Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals to stay alive for the playoffs, and many are unsure they can get it.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 7-7, and those making power rankings feel the record doesn't lie, putting the team right in the middle of the NFL as they try to fight into the playoffs over the final two weeks of the season.

The Steelers have had some real chances to move back into the playoff hunt, with the Baltimore Ravens losing three-straight games. But instead of climbing back into the AFC North race, Pittsburgh has lost two-straight games themselves, one against the struggling San Diego Chargers and another in overtime to the Dallas Cowboys. Things looked all right with the return of Ben Roethlisberger, but since then, the team has lost both games, suspended its supposed best running back, and now faces a game against the Cincinnati Bengals that will eliminate them from the playoffs if they lose. As Brian Billick wrote at Fox Sports while ranking them No. 16, it's not a good look for Pittsburgh:

The Steelers seem to be ripping at the seams at the worst possible time. They have little time to get it right before they play their most important game of the season against the Bengals on Sunday. The winner will get a wild card.
Joel Thorman of SB Nation also ranked the Steelers No. 16 in his week 16 NFL power rankings, as did ESPN. CBS and NFL.com were a tad more optimistic, putting them at No. 15, but the message was the same.

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