By Jeremy Hritz
It’s understood that there are two more games yet to be played in the 2013 season, and there is still a mathematical chance that the Steelers can sneak into the playoffs. Yet more than likely, barring a miracle, the position of teams in their division standings appears to set as far as the Steelers 2014 schedule is concerned.
|Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, San Diego*|
|Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Atlanta, Carolina, New York Jets*|
* Subject To Change
Outside of the AFC North divisional games, the Steelers will play the AFC South, the NFC South, and the third place teams from the AFC West and the AFC East. Considering their opponents and the traveling distance for their away contests, the 2014 schedule sets up nicely for a Steelers postseason resurrection.
So what are the highlights of this potential 2014 schedule?
So Close and Not Very Far Away
The Steelers will not have to travel to the West Coast for a game in 2014, something that has proven to be a challenge in the past. All of the Steelers away games will primarily be on the East Coast, and the greatest distance that the team will have to travel will be to Jacksonville. The close proximity of their games will prevent any significant disruptions to team practice routines and sleep schedules. Gone will be the nuisances and annoyances of traveling to Oakland and London, trips from 2013 with unwanted outcomes that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Two Elites Come to the Burgh
The Steelers will likely face off against two elite quarterbacks next season in Drew Brees and Phillip Rivers, and thankfully, they will get their shot against these outstanding signal callers at home. While playing against Brees and Rivers is enough of a challenge, playing Brees in the dome in New Orleans and experiencing the fatigue of travel to San Diego before playing Rivers makes for a terribly formidable task.
While no game is a guarantee in the NFL and the Steelers haven’t exactly beaten the bad teams on their schedule, there will be several opponents next year that they should beat. With games against Houston, the worst team in the league, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and possibly even the New York Jets, if the Steelers play mistake free, they should earn five wins. Again, the Steelers will have to show next year that they can beat the teams that they are expected to beat for this truly to play into their favor.
The Steelers will also have what should be exciting games against the Colts with Andrew Luck, the Panthers with Cam Newton, and the Falcons with Matt Ryan. In fact, one of these three contests, in addition to the games against New Orleans and San Diego, will be the most likely candidates for one or two prime time television matchups.
|2014 Opponents with Winning Records||2014 Opponents with Losing Records|
|(as of 12-21)||(as of 12-21)|
|New Orleans Saints, 10-4||New York Jets, 6-8|
|Carolina Panthers, 10-4||Tennessee Titans, 5-9|
|Cincinnati Bengals, 9-5||Cleveland Browns, 4-10|
|Indianapolis Colts, 9-5||Jacksonville Jaguars, 4-10|
|Baltimore Ravens, 8-6||Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4-10|
|San Diego Chargers, 7-7||Atlanta Falcons, 4-10|
|Houston Texans, 2-12|
|Overall: 53 – 31 (.630)||Overall: 29 – 69 (.296)|
|Combined Overall: 82 – 100 (.451)|