It is very rare that any NFL team’s schedule has few or no quirks to them—for example, the Baltimore Ravens this season will have an incredibly uncommon schedule in which they never play at home or on the road in consecutive weeks—and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ this year is no exception.
Other than the fact that they have five primetime games in a year in which they are coming off missing the postseason, there are two things in particular that stand out to me, and they ball fall into the back half of the schedule, which should provide an interesting stretch run.
The most noticeable thing to me is the fact that the Steelers will not have much opportunity to enjoy home cooking in the second half of the year. Of the final seven games on the schedule, they only play at Heinz Field for two of them, hosting the Cleveland Browns in Week 13 and then the Buffalo Bills in Week 15.
More still, three of their final four games on the schedule will all be on the road, paying visits during that stretch to the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets, and the Baltimore Ravens, where they will close the season. It’s been a while since the Steelers and Ravens have closed a season, come to think of it.
Of course, on the flip side, five away games in the final seven also means that they have a favorable home stretch somewhere else on the schedule. As a matter of fact, they will play at home five times out of seven weeks—and that includes a bye week.
From September 22 when they travel out west to play the San Francisco 49ers to November 13 when they are hosted by the Browns, the Steelers will not have to leave Pittsburgh. That is the better part of two months, and I can only guess that that’s a somewhat rare occurrence.
But at the same time, that makes it all the more imperative that the Steelers stockpile victories during this stretch, especially since their early schedule—at the New England Patriots, at home against the Seattle Seahawks, and then at the 49ers—will do them no favors, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they get off to a 1-2 start.
Not that that is impossible to overcome. The Steelers started last season 1-2-1 and proceeded to win their next six games after that, putting themselves in a position to secure a bye week, until they collapsed in the final six games.
Which is, of course, yet another reminder about how important stacking wins is during that stretch of home cooking. Plus. The end of that run is the beginning of a big divisional three-game stretch in which they play the Browns twice and the Cincinnati Bengals once in a three-week span. The way this season has been plotted out for Pittsburgh is actually rather interesting.