NFL Power Rankings: The Patriots and Raiders better not sleep on the Steelers

Look around the AFC and ask this question: Which team has the best chance to take down the New England Patriots in the conference?

On the surface, I can’t imagine anybody right now beating the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl. But we know better. Things change. Teams emerge in the final month and get stronger.

One of those teams might be the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have won three straight games and they’ve done so in large part because of a rejuvenated defense. The Steelers have given up a total of 30 points the past three weeks. This is a Steelers defense that had major issues early in the season.

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When you couple that improvement on defense with an offense that includes Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, it’s easy to see how they might be the team nobody wants to play come playoff time — if they get in.

The Steelers, who are up to the 11th spot in my latest Power Rankings, are tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North, each with 7-5 records. Those two teams meet Christmas Day in Pittsburgh, which should decide the winner.

There is a chance the loser is a wild-card team, but that would be a much tougher road to travel, although both have had success in that role in the past. Both teams seem to be getting it right at the most important time.

Can they take down the Patriots? Right now, I am not so sure about that. But the way the Steelers defense is improving, it’s not out of the question.

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