Connect with us

Steelers Analysis

Steelers Schedule Takeaways: Brutal Stretches, Plenty of Oddities

The Pittsburgh Steelers schedule is an oddity from previous schedules, and they will see plenty of tests coming their way throughout the season.

Published

on

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin in a game against the New England Patriots on Dec. 8, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers are starting their offseason program, and now they officially have their 2024 schedule to go along with the start of OTAs next Tuesday. However, what can they learn about their schedule just looking at it right now? Here are a few key takeaways:

Steelers Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes Andy Reid

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) warms up as head coach Andy Reid looks on before the NFL Super Bowl 57 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Tough Stretch

There is no doubt about it. The Steelers’ schedule from Week 11 through Week 18 is a straight-up gauntlet: all six of their divisional games, the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas, and a road game against the Philadelphia Eagles for good measure. Three short weeks will be mixed in throughout that stretch, with Thursday Night Football against the Browns, a Saturday game against Baltimore, and the Christmas clash with the Chiefs.

Yeah, that’s a back-loaded, team-defining stretch. Pittsburgh will out if they are real quick in those environments, so they better not slip up at any point throughout that schedule. It also emphasizes the early portion of the schedule. While they are going to take time to mesh together with the amount of ‘new’ they have on offense, Pittsburgh can not afford to crawl into the back half of their schedule behind the eight ball.

Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith

Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith at Steelers rookie minicamp on May 11, 2024. — Ed Thompson/Steelers Now

Revenge on the Mind

If Arthur Smith and Russell Wilson are ‘somewhat scalded’, as Mike Tomlin so eloquently put it, then they have some chances to make a dent in their previous ires early in the season. Opening up against Atlanta into Denver gives the chance for the Steelers to get after the team Smith was fired by and the team that dumped Wilson to the side after the 2023 season.

Going into Denver that early in the season, a place that has become perilous for the Steelers when they have traveled that far, could present a tougher matchup than most think. Even if the rookie, Bo Nix, should be a nice early-season matchup for the Steeler’s defense, the emotions in the building should be high both weeks, and the Steelers can exorcise past demons for their offensive coordinator and quarterback.

Steelers Ravens AFC North

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 8, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Divisional Anomalies

The Steeler’s first game in the AFC North will be in Week 11 against the Ravens. That is fascinating, and by far the latest, the Steelers have played a divisional game in the 21st century. It gives Pittsburgh plenty of buffer time, but they play four straight divisional games from Week 11 to Week 14 and then lock horns with the Ravens and Bengals after that in the final four games.

That is a lot of pressure on just a cluster of games, but Pittsburgh has to come out of that, at least even. It’s their six most important games by weight. That’s certainly a gauntlet, and it won’t be an easy stretch run. But the Steelers will also get the runway they need to bring in what could be three rookies starters on the offense, a new quarterback, and a new offensive coordinator together into something that might resemble a playoff football team by that stretch.

But it’s odd for the schedule-makers to load it up like that. Regardless, Pittsburgh will have to endure and tough out a few of those wins. Their resume in the AFC North in recent seasons says they can do that.

Steelers George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens, right, in action against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry, left, during the NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Road Clumps

I find it interesting how grouped Pittsburgh’s road games are this season. For example, four of their first six games are on the road. They have nine road games this season compared to nine home games in 2023, but the road games on the Steelers schedule all come in groups. They have three back-to-backs-on-road games throughout the season, including two on the back half of their schedule.

They travel the fourth fewest miles this season. But the way this entire schedule is structured certainly makes it a bit tougher when the team is consistently on the road. Regardless, Pittsburgh has a tough schedule ahead of them with the teams on their schedule, regardless of how they were grouped in the road clashes.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during rookie minicamp at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on May 10, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Later Bye Week

The Pittsburgh Steelers did win one thing, and that was the bye week lottery. Having a Week 9 bye week is excellent for the team. For one, they can step back and examine their team the week before the trade deadline. Remember, that was moved back a week this season. Second, it’s an ideal spot before the brutal stretch for the team to rest and gear up for the tough stretch ahead.

Pittsburgh had a tough time a year ago with an earlier bye week when a rash of injuries just stacked up to become insurmountable. This season, the Steelers schedule at least have a period directly in the middle of their season where they can enjoy a spell from the injury bug and heal up.

1 Comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Edward Carmichael
Edward Carmichael
May 15, 2024 5:53 pm

as a true Steelers fan, all the Steelers have to do is try and stay healthy through 17 games