The Pittsburgh Steelers have had to deal with unusual schedules lately, through no fault of their own, with games having to be postponed and moved around. On top of that, they were followed by a pair of primetime games, at a point in the season in which they had not spent a lot of time playing at night.
While it’s certainly not an excuse for the way that they have performed over the course of the past month, these disruptions to the norm cannot be comfortable for the players.
Even working on a short week after playing on a Monday night, I have no doubt that a number of players on the roster are just looking forward to having a regularly-scheduled game at a typical kickoff time. You can count edge rusher T.J. Watt as among said players, as he told reporters on Thursday.
“Playing at one o’clock again will be awesome. It feels like it’s been forever”, he said. “It’ll be nice to be back in Heinz Field, so up against a really powerful team. I’m not saying the other ones weren’t, but just saying it’s going to be awesome to have a challenge, and just really excited to getting back to playing football, and hopefully right the ship this week”.
After playing in primetime during the season opener against the New York Giants, the Steelers had six consecutive games that kicked off at 1 PM. Over the course of the past seven games, however, they have had just one afternoon kickoff, with some odd times—3:40 PM and 5:00 PM—thrown into the mix as well, followed by two primetime slots.
They will wrap up their regular season schedule with two games that kick off at 1 PM, starting with their final home game against the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday, before traveling to face the Cleveland Browns in the finale, which, depending upon what happens this weekend, could decide who emerges with the AFC North title.
If the Steelers defeat the Colts at Heinz Field, then they will secure the division—and perhaps it is worth noting that they are undefeated this season in games that kick off in the afternoon. If, however, they lose the game and the Browns, as they are expected to, defeat the New York Jets, then whoever wins the finale wins the division.