It’s never truly wise to hyper-analyze the release of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ schedule each and every year, but that’s exactly what happens as soon as the schedule for the coming season drops in early May.
Thursday night, the NFL released the schedule for all 32 teams, leading to some silly wins and losses predictions for the Steelers through their 17-game schedule.
While it doesn’t look like a tough schedule overall without any truly difficult stretches, ESPN NFL Nation Steelers’ reporter Brooke Pryor believes that the Steelers will be a team near the bottom of the NFL when it comes to their record heading into the Week 9 bye. Rendering a bold prediction for the Steelers as part of an NFL Nation piece focusing on the league as a whole, Pryor believes the Steelers will have just three wins entering the Week 9 bye.
“The Steelers will have three wins at the bye week. Not only are the first five games tough, but every game before the bye will be difficult for a new quarterback to navigate,” Pryor writes. “The Steelers have a stout defense, but they’ll be facing the formidable offenses of Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami and Cincinnati. The Browns, Patriots and Eagles aren’t a walk in the park, either.”
As a reminder, the Steelers’ schedule plays out like this prior to the bye week: at Bengals, vs. Patriots, at Browns (Thursday Night Football), vs. Jets, at Bills, vs Buccaneers, at Dolphins (Sunday Night Football), at Eagles.
While there are some big-name teams in that stretch, it’s not as tough as Pryor writes. Sure, the Bengals, Bills and Buccaneers will have tough offensives with Joe Burrow, Josh Allen and Tom Brady under center, but assuming that Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa are the real deal under center for the Eagles and Dolphins’ rebuilt offenses is a massive stretch.
The Steelers will have to navigate the opening eight-game stretch with a new quarterback, whether that’s Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett, but the defense is still relatively deep, and the Steelers are aiming to play a more physical, ball-control style offense this season under second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
Should the Steelers somehow enter the Week 9 bye week with just three wins though as Pryor believes, Pittsburgh has a favorable stretch after the bye that would allow them to rebound from any type of rough start to open the season, as the Steelers face just two playoff teams from last season in the Bengals in Week 11 at home on Sunday Night Football, and then the Las Vegas Raiders at home on Christmas Eve in Week 16 on Saturday night in primetime.