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Pittsburgh Steelers Fading From the Playoff Picture: Ultimate NFL Power Rankings Week 15

The 7-5-1 Steelers are losers of three straight with only three games to go in the regular season.

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Losers of three straight with only three regular-season games left to go, the Pittsburgh Steelers are hurting both literally and figuratively.

In the literal sense, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has multiple contusions in his ribs, an injury that forced him from a portion of Sunday’s game and likely led to Pittsburgh falling to the hapless Oakland Raiders 24-21.

The Steelers are also still hurting at running back as first-stringer James Conner is still dealing with an ankle injury that kept him sidelined on Sunday and may force him to miss a second consecutive game this week.

Figuratively, Pittsburgh is pained by the reality that Sunday’s home game against the New England Patriots is nearly a must-win contest for them if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Should Pittsburgh lose, they’ll fall to 7-6-1 on the season and likely be surpassed atop the AFC North by the Ravens, who sit a game back at 7-6 but have a very winnable game against the Bucs this weekend.

Pittsburgh may still be in the final wild-card spot with a loss, but the Colts, Dolphins, and Titans are also all 7-6 and at least one of those teams will probably win this week to improve to 8-6 (a half-game better than the Steelers should they lose).

And winning this week will be no picnic as the Patriots are coming to the Steel City off a brutal last-second loss to the Dolphins and are in nearly as dire need of a win as Pittsburgh is. New England is always dangerous following a loss and came to Pittsburgh in a similar situation late last year and left victorious.

Things don’t get any easier for the Steelers in Week 16 as they have to travel to New Orleans to face a Saints team that is the class of the NFL and has only lost a single game at home all season.

Losses this week and next would drop Pittsburgh to 7-7-1 with only one game left to go. Even if they do win that last one against the Bengals, an 8-7-1 record likely won’t be enough to get the Steelers back into the playoffs.

Once powerful, the Steelers have turned painful – and it may only get worse from here on out.

But how do the power rankers from ESPNNFL.com, and USA Today see it?

Find out in the latest edition of RealClearLife‘s Ultimate NFL Power Rankings, which combine ratings from those three outlets to get a single rank for all 32 teams in NFL and use segmented tiers to arrange them.

Also, for an even greater perspective on how the season has been progressing, check out how each team’s season average ranking compares with where they finished this week and last.

The Best of the Best (1.00-5.33)

No. 1.00, last 1.66, two weeks ago 1.00, season average 3.52: New Orleans Saints (ESPN, 1), (NFL.com, 1), (USA Today, 1)

No. 2.33, last 3.66, two weeks ago 3.00, season average 3.18: Kansas City Chiefs (ESPN, 2), (NFL.com, 2), (USA Today, 3)

No. 2.66, last 1.33, two weeks ago 2.00, season average 1.73: Los Angeles Rams (ESPN, 3), (NFL.com, 3), (USA Today, 2)

No. 4.33, last 5.00, two weeks ago 5.00, season average 7.47: Los Angeles Chargers (ESPN, 4), (NFL.com, 5), (USA Today, 4)

No. 4.66, last 3.33, two weeks ago 4.00, season average 4.65: New England Patriots (ESPN, 5), (NFL.com, 4), (USA Today, 5)

The Best of the Rest (5.34-10.66)

No. 6.00, last 8.33, two weeks ago 7.00, season average 11.21: Chicago Bears (ESPN, 6), (NFL.com, 6), (USA Today, 6)

No. 7.00, last 6.00, two weeks ago 7.66, season average 15.35: Houston Texans (ESPN, 7), (NFL.com, 7), (USA Today, 7)

No. 8.33, last 9.33, two weeks ago 13.33, season average 18.11: Dallas Cowboys (ESPN, 8), (NFL.com, 9), (USA Today, 8)

No. 8.66, last 9.66, two weeks ago 10.66, season average 17.09: Seattle Seahawks (ESPN, 9), (NFL.com, 8), (USA Today, 9)

No. 10.33, last 11.33, two weeks ago 11.66, season average 11.66: Baltimore Ravens (ESPN, 11), (NFL.com, 10), (USA Today, 10)

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance (10.67-15.99)

No. 11.00, last 7.33, two weeks ago 6.33, season average 8.75: Pittsburgh Steelers (ESPN, 10), (NFL.com, 12), (USA Today, 11)

No. 11.66, last 13.66, two weeks ago 12.00, season average 21.37: Indianapolis Colts (ESPN, 12), (NFL.com, 11), (USA Today, 12)

No. 13.66, last 12.00, two weeks ago 9.00, season average 9.06: Minnesota Vikings (ESPN, 13), (NFL.com, 13), (USA Today, 15)

No. 14.00, last 17.00, two weeks ago 18.33, season average 18.06: Tennessee Titans (ESPN, 14), (NFL.com, 14), (USA Today, 14)

No. 15.33, last 19.00, two weeks ago 22.66, season average 18.47: Miami Dolphins (ESPN, 17), (NFL.com, 16), (USA Today, 13)

Stuck in the Middle with You (16.00-21.32)

No. 17.00, last 13.00, two weeks ago 15.33, season average 19.90: Denver Broncos (ESPN, 18), (NFL.com, 17), (USA Today, 16)

No. 17.33, last 15.33, two weeks ago 18.33, season average 11.94: Philadelphia Eagles (ESPN, 15), (NFL.com, 18), (USA Today, 19)

No. 18.00, last 21.00, two weeks ago 17.00, season average 13.04: Green Bay Packers (ESPN, 19), (NFL.com, 15), (USA Today, 20)

No. 18.66, last 15.33, two weeks ago 14.00, season average 10.30: Carolina Panthers (ESPN, 16), (NFL.com, 22), (USA Today, 18)

No. 18.66, last 21.00, two weeks ago 20.66, season average 22.28: Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 20), (NFL.com, 19), (USA Today, 17)

It’s Probably Not Your Year  (21.33-26.65)

No. 21.33, last 24.00, two weeks ago 26.00, season average 26.40: New York Giants (ESPN, 22), (NFL.com, 20), (USA Today, 22)

No. 23.00, last 18.33, two weeks ago 15.66, season average 15.42: Washington Redskins (ESPN, 21), (NFL.com, 23), (USA Today, 25)

No. 23.33, last 22.33, two weeks ago 21.00, season average 16.90: Atlanta Falcons (ESPN, 23), (NFL.com, 26), (USA Today, 21)

No. 23.33, last 24.33, two weeks ago 21.66, season average 22.87: Detroit Lions (ESPN, 25), (NFL.com, 21), (USA Today, 24)

No. 23.66, last 24.00, two weeks ago 26.33, season average 21.28: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ESPN, 24), (NFL.com, 24), (USA Today, 23)

See You in 2019  (26.66-32.00)

No. 27.00, last 26.33, two weeks ago 23.00, season average 15.73: Cincinnati Bengals (ESPN, 27), (NFL.com, 28), (USA Today, 26)

No. 27.66, last 26.00, two weeks ago 26.33, season average 28.78: Buffalo Bills (ESPN, 28), (NFL.com, 25), (USA Today, 30)

No. 28.66, last 31.33, two weeks ago 29.66, season average 28.63: San Francisco 49ers (ESPN, 30), (NFL.com, 29), (USA Today, 27)

No. 29.00, last 26.33, two weeks ago 27.00, season average 16.49: Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 26), (NFL.com, 30), (USA Today, 31)

No. 29.00, last 30.33, two weeks ago 30.66, season average 30.76: Oakland Raiders (ESPN, 31), (NFL.com, 27), (USA Today, 29)

No. 29.33, last 30.00, two weeks ago 29.66, season average 26.85: New York Jets (ESPN, 29), (NFL.com, 31), (USA Today, 28)

No. 32.00, last 30.33, two weeks ago 32.00, season average 30.66: Arizona Cardinals (ESPN, 32), (NFL.com, 32), (USA Today, 32)