According to a report by Jack Hillgrove of WTOV9, the Pittsburgh Steelers will make four appearances in prime-time this season — Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns (MNF), Week 3 at the Las Vegas Raiders (SNF), Week 9 against the Tennessee Titans (TNF) and Week 14 against the New England Patriots (TNF). Hillgrove’s report matches up with Andrew Fillipponi’s full schedule leak.
The Steelers’ two games on Thursday Night Football against the Titans and Patriots, respectively, are both at home. The league is now permitted to schedule teams for Thursday night games after a previous Sunday game on two occasions during the season. Previously, a team could only play one game on Thursday night after playing Sunday. This new rule was passed at the owner’s meetings in Phoenix in late March.
Amazon Prime Video’s TNF viewership was down 41% from the 2021 NFL season. With the Steelers having a large and rapid fanbase, it makes sense that the league scheduled them twice on Thursday Night Football to help with viewership. It’s all a part of a multi-pronged effort by the league to get better games on prime-time television, especially later in the season when ratings dropped heavily on Amazon Prime Video. Steelers-Patriots in Week 14 is a perfect example.
Monday Night Football will have flex scheduling in 2023, for Weeks 13-17. The specifics of how those games will be flexed has not been fully released. The NFL owners tabled a Thursday Night Football flex scheduling plan at the owner’s meetings, after old-school owners Art Rooney II and John Mara held firm in opposition of flexing games from Sundays to Thursday and vice versa. Mara was so opposed that he called the possible Thursday night flexing plan “abusive” to fans. The owners will reconvene later this month to decide on the fate of that plan.
The Steelers had five prime-time games scheduled in 2022, but their Week 11 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals got flexed to 4:25 p.m. Their Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens got flexed from 1 p.m. to Sunday Night Football, so they ended up playing five prime-time games regardless. This is the first year since 2018 that the Steelers won’t have five prime-time games scheduled.