‘Gotta Win Those Games’: Cam Heyward Has Eyes Divisional Matchups, Aims To Take Care Of Business

The AFC North is always a gauntlet for teams to get through as one of the best divisions in football year after year.

Each and every year the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns seemingly play each other in close, physical games in which the records are, for a lack of a better term, thrown out the window.

While they are well-known opponents and aren’t a surprise for teams when it comes to being on the schedule every season, players can’t help but look to the schedule to see when they play divisional opponents.

For the second straight year, the Steelers will get their look at divisional opponents early in the season and then close the season late against divisional opponents, which the NFL certainly hopes has division title implications on the line.

Pittsburgh will play Cleveland at Acrisure Stadium in Week 2 on Monday Night Football, and then host Baltimore in Week 5 at 1 p.m. ahead of the Steelers’ Week 6 bye week. It won’t be until Nov. 19 and 26 that the Steelers will see division opponents again, hitting the road for matchups in Ohio against Cleveland and Cincinnati — the first one of the year against the Bengals — in Weeks 11 and 12.

Then, the Steelers close the season with two of their last three games in AFC North play, hosting the Bengals in Week 16 in primetime, and then trailing to Baltimore in Week 18 to close the season.

Pittsburgh star defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, while appearing on his latest episode of his podcast “Not Just Football with Cam Heyward”  said he has his eyes on those divisional matchups and aims to have the Steelers ready to take care of business within the division.

“I felt like last year it was like we played division games early and then divisions games late. I know we have our, we have a couple of division games in the Bengals and the Ravens towards the end of your schedule, but early on we’ve got the Browns and we’ve got the Ravens in Week 5. You gotta win those games,” Heyward said to his co-host, Hayden Walsh, according to video via the NFL on the ESPN YouTube page. “It’s not in the thick of your schedule for the most part. It’s not in the middle of your schedule. But we got a Monday night game, so you get an extra day to prepare with the Browns, and then a one o’clock game at home with the Ravens, which is leading to your bye. So you really want to take care of business in that approach.”

Last year was really one of the first years that the league did that season split, putting some divisional games early and the rest on the tail end of the schedule late in the season, making games in Weeks 16-18 very meaningful, at least on paper.

The early returns on that decision by the league paid off in a big way, especially in the AFC North. The Steelers and Ravens had a thriller late in the season, and the Steelers and Browns in Week 18 was also highly watched. That’s going to be the case again this season for the Steelers, which has Heyward aiming to pick up two crucial wins in Ohio around Thanksgiving, hopefully springboarding the Steelers into a strong close to the season once again.

“…Those are tough games on the road, but we gotta be able to go in Ohio and pick up two critical wins,” he said

Taking care of business within the division will only set the Steelers up for success overall, and possibly get them back into the playoffs in 2023.

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