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Title track: T7
Fan relations: 31
Stadium experience: 76
Bang for the buck: 63
Change from last year: +8
The Steelers are never far from the top in these rankings -- in the 13 years of these rankings, they've never ranked lower than 38, wihch was last year -- thanks to the stability (and perennial high rankings) the Rooney family provides, as well as a storied championship history that seems possible to grow in any given year (their title track has placed in the top 10 every year since 2007). The team jumped eight spots in this year's rankings and enters 2015-16 with high expectations after an 11-win season in 2014.
Pittsburgh has a singular focus of winning a seventh Super Bowl in 2015 and has the quarterback to do it ... or, at least, had the QB to do it until Ben Roethlisberger injured his leg in Week 3. He should be back sometime in November, though, to join a team loaded with playmakers. The presence of Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and others vaulted the players ranking to 20th overall, up 10 spots from the previous year. The team's rating in stadium experience got a bump, too, thanks to the Steelers' playing up Heinz Field's ideal location next to where the Allegheny River meets the Monongahela -- there are activities, food options and parking places all close to the water.
The Steelers are 30th overall, but their games aren't the ideal venue for a cheap Sunday activity. Ranking 47th in affordability and 63rd in bang for the buck on this list kept the team from cracking the top 20 overall, where their tradition and stability could have placed them. The fan base is devoted to its core. The franchise somehow brings a home-cooked, high school atmosphere to pro football in Pittsburgh, and many average fans would probably pay thousands to be in Heinz Field on game days. Trouble is, the Steelers seem to know that -- and the rankings suffer as a result.
A 20-point drop in stadium experience might have more to do with high prices than Heinz, but a more surprising drop came in coaching: The Steelers probably should have seen a jump there, not a one-place drop from 36th to 37th, considering Mike Tomlin's credibility as a Super Bowl winner coming off an 11-victory season, as well as a new contract that places him among the game's best-paid. Regardless, Pittsburgh's role as a trendy Super Bowl pick is legit. If the defense holds up even slightly, the offense -- once Roethlisberger returns -- should be good enough to win playoff games on its own merit. The Steelers rank a respectable 31st in fan relations right now, and that's an area that will only improve in the 2016 rankings if the team keeps winning. They engage fans on social media, cling to the nostalgia of training camp at Saint Vincent College (50 years and counting) and don't breed the arrogance of some franchises.