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Don't underestimate Big Ben and the Steelers in 2014

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

A team's success, or lack thereof, is almost always tied to the quarterback position. It is the one position player that has the ability to bring the overall level of play of a team significantly north or south.

That being said, Ben Roethlisberger may be one of the most underrated NFL quarterbacks. And like him, the Steelers are too being underrated, but their success in 2014 will largely depend on the arm of Big Ben.

Roethlisberger recently came in at No. 31 on the NFL's top 100 list, and although that is a significant move upwards from being ranked No. 61 on the best players of 2013 by NFL Network, it still doesn't quite seem to capture what the signal-caller means to Pittsburgh.

The biggest issue in Ben's career has understandably been his health, as he has repeatedly stayed in the pocket longer than most, doing his best to extend plays behind a subpar offensive line. And, put quite simply, the reason Ben's health is the number one issue for the Steelers is because the team literally falls apart without him.

As age and salary cap problems continues to starve the team's health and resources, Roethlisberger has proven his worth time and time again. He does not merely steer his team tot he playoffs almost annually, but at times, seems to drag them there. His stats have repeatedly been solid, and as the defense has faltered in recent years, the coaching staff has only become more reliant on Ben's ability to produce and carry. And that's all the man has done.

If you take a look around the other top AFC quarterbacks and their teams- Brady of the Patriots, Manning of the Broncos, Flacco of the Ravens, Rivers of the Chargers, it's tough (impossible?) to build an argument against Roethlisberger as one of the top three quarterbacks in the conference, and perhaps the league.

Flacco is surrounded by weapons that stepped up during their playoff run, masking otherwise average play. Although also underrated, Rivers had a very solid defense to back him when the offense faltered. Manning has an above average supporting cast, and well, at least Brady has Gronk.

When it comes down to talking about importance to the team, I'd value Big Ben just as much as Tom Brady. And with the up-tempo offense entering full swing in the Steel City, Bengals fans know this better than most.