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.