You’ve probably heard by now that the Pittsburgh Steelers face the toughest schedule in the league this season. While that is measured by the records of their scheduled opponents based on the previous season, it’s hard to deny that it looks like some rough sledding up ahead, and the season doesn’t start off cushy either with a road game against the Buffalo Bills, the first team to beat them last year.
The Bills went 13-3 last season, edging out the Steelers for the second seed, though the second seed doesn’t mean nearly as much as it used to, given that it no longer comes with a first-round bye. They finished the season on a six-game winning streak and reached the AFC Championship Game, where they lost only to the Kansas City Chiefs. And they have retained their core players from last season, with key additions.
It’s not a fun way to open up your season when you’re trying to prove doubters wrong, but you can only play the opponents ahead of you. With that said, it’s not surprising that few are giving them much chance of winning. In fact, David Carr recently picked the Bills over the Steelers as the safest bet for week one.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to roll into Buffalo and get rolled out”, he said recently on the NFL Network. “The Buffalo Bills are gonna be jumping. We just basically called [Josh Allen] the MVP in this show today, so he’s gonna have a lot of fun against Pittsburgh”.
That is what happened last year when these two teams played, with the Bills producing a comfortable 26-15 win in a game that was just 23-7 entering the fourth quarter. The defense did well against Allen in the first half, with a halftime score of 9-7, but they pulled away with two touchdowns in the third quarter, a pair of passes from Allen.
It didn’t help that Ben Roethlisberger also got intercepted twice, one of which was returned for a 51-yard touchdown. The second interception came on the Steelers’ final possession as they tried to come back down two scores with over seven minutes to play.
The Bills never gave the ball back, running out the final 7:11 on the clock in a remarkable sustained effort that featured a lot of Zack Moss running the football, and which included three third-down conversions, although two were of just one yard. The first took 11 yards to prolong the drive.
It would not be perhaps so worrisome if the Bills weren’t just one of many difficult upcoming games. They are also scheduled to face the Green Bay Packers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Chicago Bears, the Tennessee Titans, the Kansas City Chiefs, and, of course, both the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens twice. All of those teams were in the playoffs a year ago.