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2020 Steelers Games Ranked by Level of Intrigue

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The NFL schedule is out, now comes the intrigue and analysis.

While the Steelers‘ opponents have been known for some time, their place on the schedule very much influences the level of interest the game has.

Of note, the Steelers have four only four primetime games this season. Two will be on Monday night, one on Sunday night and their premier matchup will be against the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night.

Here are the intrigue levels of each game on the Steelers schedule, ranked from 16-1.

16. Week 13 vs. Washington Redskins

The Redskins were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season and don’t figure to be much better in 2020. The Skins had the worst offense in the league and the 27th ranked defense. Look for Case Keenum or Kyle Allen to be leading the charge when they come into Heinz Field on December 12th. If the Steelers drop this one it likely means their season is a lost cause.

15. Week 11 at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags were a big old mess last season going 6-10. The exodus of stars continues as Leonard Fournette may or may not be on his way out of town. He would join Jalen Ramsay, Malik Jackson, Telvin Smith, A.J. Bouye, and possibly Yannick Ngakoue, who also wants to be traded, as former key members of a team that was one quarter away from a Super Bowl a few years ago. Gardner Minshew is at least pretty exciting, but this game holds little interest beyond it being a “should” win for the Steelers. Now, if the Steelers had traded for Fournette, this would be marginally more exciting, but they didn’t.

14. Week 16 vs. Indianapolis Colts

The penultimate game of 2020, on paper this looks like a relatively uninteresting matchup. The Colts finished 7-9 last year and were a very unexciting team without Andrew Luck. The Steelers were able to sneak out of Indy with a 26-26-24 win last year, but there are few clamoring for a rematch.

13. Week 15 at Cincinnati Bengals

Are you ready for some football? The second of the two regular season meetings with the Bengals and one of two Steelers Monday Night Football appearances. Other than it being a divisional game, there doesn’t seem to be anything that makes this one stand out, unless you’re really interested in seeing Joe Burrow’s in-season development.

12. Week 2 vs. Denver Broncos

The Broncos had a bad offense in 2019, ranking 28th in the league and the 10th ranked scoring defense. They finished 7-9. Drew Lock is their quarterback. There is almost nothing interesting to say about the Broncos except that they should have a good defense again and have some speed at wide receiver so it will be a good test of the Steelers secondary.

11. Week 10 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Tiger King makes his way to Pittsburgh. First overall NFL pick Joe Burrow will get his first shot at the Steelers in week 10 as the Bengals will visit Heinz Field. The Steelers are usually pretty good against rookie quarterbacks, but Burrow has a ton of weapons at his disposal with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon. But Cincinnati hasn’t beaten the Steelers since week 8 of 2015, so why start now?

10. Week 5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Steelers cross-state rivals come in for an early showdown. You’d think there would be more enmity between teams from the same state. It is Philadelphia after all, which Mike Asti touched on when he went through the schedule on a show, but Steelers-Eagles isn’t quite the same as Pens-Flyers. The hate just isn’t there. Last season’s NFC East champions won four straight to enter the playoffs before losing to Seattle 17-9. They should be in contention again this season.

9. Week 1 at New York Giants, the Season Opener.

It’s the season opener, which makes this compelling. Will there even be fans in attendance? The Giants weren’t good last year, but Daniel Jones should be improved and he has a host of weapons around him. A good season opening test for the defense.

8. Week 9 at Dallas Cowboys

It’s the Cowboys, so of course it’s the 4:25 NFL Game of the Week. The furthest travel the Steelers will be doing during the 2020 regular season. It’s hard to predict if the Cowboys will be good or not. On paper, yes. But as we saw last year when they missed the playoffs completely, that doesn’t mean much. Still, it’s a road showdown against a “premier” NFL franchise, which should make for a good game.

7. Week 4 at Tennessee Titans

A looming early season showdown with the AFC runners-up. It remains to be seen if the Titans can recapture that magic, but any team that can dispatch the Patriots and Ravens in short order has to be considered dangerous. The Titans were the team that got into the playoffs instead of the Steelers, so this will be a good early indicator of the AFC pecking order.

6. Week 14 at Buffalo Bills

We’ll be waitin’ all day for Sunday Night. The Steelers travel north to take on the new kings of the AFC East. With Brady out of the division, the Bills are the presumptive favorites. This should be a fierce battle between two of the best defenses in the NFL. Its proximity to the end of the season means there should be playoff seeding implications.

5. Week 3 vs. Houston Texans, AKA Watt Bowl I

The first time all three Watt brothers will be participating in the same game (barring injury). The big question, who will the parents be rooting for? Other than that, it should be a good game between the Steelers and one of the top teams in the AFC last season.

4. Week 6 vs. Cleveland Browns

The first divisional game of the season will find the Steelers welcoming the Browns to Heinz Field for the teams’ first matchup since the whole Myles Garrett vs. Mason Rudolph fiasco/racial slur allegation. Probably won’t be any bad blood between the teams left over, right?

3. Week 7 at Baltimore Ravens

We’ll know a lot about both of these teams by week seven, which could make this a very compelling marquee midseason matchup.

2. Week 17 at Cleveland Browns

The regular season finale could have huge implications for both teams. Of course, it could also be meaningless, but the Steelers have been in the hunt for the playoffs in week 17 both of the last two seasons. A lot is riding on whether or not the Browns can right the ship and make a legitimate challenge for the AFC North crown.

1. Week 12 vs. Baltimore Ravens

Steelers, Ravens, Thanksgiving. Should be an absolute blood bath.

*You can also watch Mike Asti preview the entire schedule on Pittsburgh Sports Live.*

Steelers

Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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Steelers

NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North

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It appears that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with both Roethlisberger’s agent and team president Art Rooney II making public statements that each party desires a return for 2021 this week.

But how much of a difference-maker will Roethlisberger be? That depends on his level of play this coming season.

NFL Network analysts and former NFL players Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson each ranked the quarterbacks of the AFC North and both said they think Roethlisberger is the third-best quarterback in the division, behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.

“I’m not taking anything away from Ben,” McGinest said. “Lamar Jackson is special and I put Baker in front of Ben because of what we’ve seen in the progression of Baker the last couple of years. … I see him getting better and Ben fighting father time, with the skills diminishing just a little bit.”

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve seen, in spurts, Big Ben play well. He started out hot. But he didn’t finish so well. … He looked old and beat up toward the end of the season. I’m just not sure that improves.”

Statistically, Roethlisberger finished first amongst the four AFC North passers in completion percentage, but he was fourth in yards per attempt and third in passer rating and QBR. Pro Football Focus ranked Roethlisberger last of the division’s four starters in 2020.

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Steelers

NFL Head Coach: Bud Dupree’s Injury Cause for Uncertainty Entering Free Agency

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Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is set to hit free agency in a matter of weeks, but one head coach believes he could be waiting a while to sign.

Speaking with FanSided’s Matt Lombardo, an NFL head coach, speaking anonymously, said Dupree’s season-ending knee injury has made his free agency outlook uncertain.

“Bud Dupree is someone that is a real question mark for me,” the head coach told FanSided. “If he was healthy, he’s easily the top pass-rusher hitting the open market, and teams would pay a king’s ransom to sign him. But, with him coming off a torn ACL, what exactly are you committing to? Does he want to go back to Pittsburgh? Who knows, but he’s someone that I think will wind up having to wait a while to sign.”

Lombardo compares Dupree’s situation to Tennessee Titans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney last offseason.

While he had not suffered a significant injury the season prior with the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, Clowney signed with Tennessee on just a one-year, $12-million deal. He had been expected to be paid handsomely on a lengthier contract, which obviously did not come to fruition.

Clowney was virtually invisible for the Titans, recording no sacks in eight games before being placed on injured reserve in November.

Due to his torn ACL, Dupree could find himself having to settle on a cheaper, one-year “prove it” deal as well. Ideally he would then cash in during the 2022 free agency period is all goes as planned.

Dupree was having another stellar season before tearing his ACL in the Steelers’ Week 12 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He had eight sacks, eight tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and a pair of forced fumbles through eleven games.

After playing last season under the franchise tag, which paid Dupree $15.828 million, the Steelers’ dire salary cap situation will most likely prevent them from bringing him back. Still, the brass of the organization has expressed their desire to do so if circumstances were different.

While the knee injury remains a concern, Dupree shared he was ahead of schedule in his recovery when he joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football late last month.

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