Just like that, the NFL schedule has been released, dates and matchups are set, and fans can begin planning their trips for the fall.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they’ll get to open the 2023 season at home, marking the first time in nearly a decade that they’ll do so, and will also have home games the first two weeks of the season to open a year for the first time since 1997. That’s some good fortune for the Black and Gold.
Though the Steelers’ opponents were known since the end of the 2022 regular season, now there’s a clear picture as to how the schedule shakes out. Outside of the six usual divisional games with home and road matchups against the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals, which games stand out as the most intriguing due to overall matchup, spot on the calendar and more?
Glad you asked!
Below, I break down my four most intriguing non-AFC North games on the 2023 schedule for the Steelers, going No. 4-1.
No. 4 — Week 3, at Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday Night Football
The first road trip of the season just so happens to be the first trip to Sin City for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The last time these two teams matched up came on Christmas Eve at Heinz Field on an emotionally charged night. The Steelers retired No. 32 for the late Franco Harris, and later won the game on a last-second 14-yard touchdown pass from then-rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett to then-rookie receiver George Pickens in yet another display of late-game heroics from the Steelers quarterback.
Now, the Steelers will get a chance to head out to Las Vegas for a prime-time matchup against the new-look Raiders under head coach Josh McDaniels and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday Night Football. Will the Oakland curse and the historic struggles the Steelers had on the road against the Raiders over the years transfer to Las Vegas? Will there be a bit of a hangover from the Monday Night Football matchup the week before against the Cleveland Browns in a much-anticipated AFC North matchup just six days prior?
We will see, but a trip out to Las Vegas for the first road game of the season is a rather intriguing one.
No. 3 — Week 10, vs. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
For the second-straight matchup at Acrisure Stadium between two historic franchises in the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers will not be part of it.
That’s because the Rodgers era in Green Bay is over and the Jordan Love era is underway. Week 10, assuming good health for Love, will be the first look at the former first-round quarterback for the Steelers as the Packers ride into town for a 1 p.m. matchup. The last time Green Bay was in Pittsburgh was November 26, 2017, a 31-28 Steelers’ win that overshadowed a career performance from longtime backup Brett Hundley for the Packers.
This matchup will have a different feel from than one as Hundley was keeping the seat warm for Rodgers, who was out with an injury. Love is the man in charge moving forward for the Packers. Every time these two teams meet, fireworks seem to happen. We’ll see if that happens again, especially with the Steelers playing at home for the third-straight week and coming off of a mini-bye following the Week 9 Thursday Night Football matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
No. 2 — Week 8, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
This one has the chance to really be one of the games of the year, if things break right for both teams. Typically, the Steelers struggle in matchups against the Jacksonville Jaguars, especially at home, which will be the case in Week 8 as the Steelers return to Acrisure Stadium following a long road trip to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in Week 7 following an early Week 6 bye.
Two young, up-and-coming quarterbacks; fast, physical defenses; offenses loaded with playmakers and two highly regarded head coaches with Super Bowls on their resumes. What a matchup on paper this could be!
That return home after a long road trip, which will create a short week for the Steelers, is a bit concerning. Jacksonville will be coming off of a mini bye week after a Week 7 matchup against the New Orleans Saints on the road on Thursday Night Football and will be well-rested for the trip to Pittsburgh before its Week 9 bye.
Good news for Pittsburgh is this matchup is the first of three at home in the middle of October, but it will be the toughest one. Can Pittsburgh kick off the three-week homestand with a big win over an AFC contender?
No. 1 — Week 17, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.
The final stretch of the Steelers’ 2023 schedule is rather brutal, with three of the final four games of the season coming at Indianapolis in Week 15, at Seattle in Week 17 and at Baltimore in Week 18. That doesn’t include the Week 16 home game against the Cincinnati Bengals sandwiched in between.
That trip to Seattle in Week 17 looms large, as it might be the top game on the schedule outside of the divisional matchups for me. Seattle was a real surprise last season with Geno Smith under center, and the Seahawks got even better this offseason. Seattle had one of the best drafts in the league again, right there with the Steelers, and really looks like a well-oiled, physical football team with serious matchup problems at receiver for a team in the Steelers with concerns at cornerback.
Add in the late-season trip to the Pacific Northwest on New Year’s Eve and it will be a very difficult matchup for the Steelers, especially in between two (likely) pivotal AFC North matchups against the Bengals and Ravens. The schedule makers did Pittsburgh no favors with this one, but the two teams seem like carbon copies of each other — physical rushing attacks, high-end playmakers at receiver, shutdown defenses — which should make for an electrifying matchup to close out the 2023 calendar year for both franchises.