The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of seven teams that will play multiple short-week Thursday Night Football games during the 2023 season, but according to new research, they won’t be disadvantaged by playing with less rest than their opponents this season.
In fact, the Steelers will play with more rest than their opponents more often than the inverse, according to research by Warren Sharp of Sharp Football.
Sharp tabulated the number of games each team will play where the number of days rest is unequal between the two squads, then balanced those over the course of a season, creating a statistic he calls a net rest edge.
In the Steelers’ two Thursday Night games, in Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans and Week 14 against the New England Patriots, their opponents are matched evenly, with both teams playing Thursday games after Sunday games. But because both of those games are at home, and following home games, the Steelers do not have to travel during their short weeks and both of their opponents do.
The following week is a longer week of rest for the Steelers, giving them an edge in Week 10 and Week 15. But they also play two other teams in that also have that advantage. They face the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8 after a Thursday Night game in Week 7 and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12 with extra rest after facing the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football in Week 11.
All of that leaves the Steelers neutral in terms of Sharp’s net rest edge stat, but there is one very important other consideration. The Steelers do not face a single team all season that is coming off its bye week. So while the Steelers will be well-rested for their Week 7 trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams, they will not face the other side of that coin at any point this season.
That gives the Steelers a plus-7 in terms of net rest edge for the season, which is tied for the seventh-largest margin in the league.
Only the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders (plus-12), Tennessee Titans (plus-11), Cleveland Browns (plus-10) and Baltimore Ravens (plus-9) have more favorable schedules when it comes to comparative rest advantage.
Some Steelers have been outspoken about their displeasure with playing two Thursday games, but everything they go through in those games will be the same for their opponents, and they’re getting a big break in not facing a team coming off a bye.