Steelers

2015 Steelers Schedule Prediction

I’ve done this each of the past 4 seasons, proposing what the Steelers schedule might look like prior to the NFL’s season schedule release (Tuesday, April 21). I’ve been close some years, close to completely wrong that is! Then there was 2 years ago when I nailed 5 of 16 games, the bye week, and 3 of their prime time games. So, what does this year hold?

For starters, I think they will open the season in New England on Thursday, September 10. The Patriots have a weak home schedule in 2015 and I don’t see the Jets or Dolphins being a draw. The Eagles last preseason game is on the road and the NFL wouldn’t make the Eagles travel on week 1. On the flip side, the Steelers are home in the final preseason Thursday night game. Besides the logistics, the history of the two teams rivalry over the past 15 years, franchise history’s, and Brady vs. Roethlisberger makes too much sense not to make happen.

The Steelers have a terrible schedule away from Heinz Field. In year’s past, they would be fortunate enough not to travel west of the Mississippi River. This year, they make two road trips to the west coast – Seattle and San Diego. The home schedule is just as terrible, not for travel – rather for competition. BRUTAL is more the word! The Colts and Broncos join the Ravens and Bengals as 4 of 8 teams occupying the visitors locker room in 2015.

This season I see the Steelers appearing the maximum 5 times on prime time, including the Thursday night opener. I also see them facing off against the Cardinals, Colts, Seahawks, and Broncos under the lights. Pending week 17 flex schedule, I can also see them facing the Ravens after 8PM.

And with that….

*Thursday, Sept 10: @ New England – 8:30P CBS
Sunday, Sept 20: VS. Cleveland – 1:00P CBS
Sunday, Sept 27: @ Kansas City – 1:00P CBS
Sunday, Oct 4: @ Baltimore – 1:00P CBS
Sunday, Oct 11: VS. Cincinnati – 1:00P CBS
*Monday, Oct 19: VS. Arizona – 8:30P ESPN *Crucial Catch*
Sunday, Oct 25: @ San Diego – 4:15P CBS
Sunday, Nov 1: BYE
*Sunday, Nov 8 VS. Indianapolis – 8:30P NBC
Sunday, Nov 15 @ Cleveland – 1:00P CBS
*Monday, Nov 23 @ Seattle – 8:15P ESPN
Sunday, Nov 29 VS. Oakland – 1:00P CBS
Sunday, Dec 6 VS. San Francisco – 1:00P
Sunday, Dec 13 @ Cincinnati – 1:00P CBS
*Sunday, Dec 20: VS. Denver – 8:30P NBC
Sunday, Dec 27: @ St. Louis – 1:00P CBS
Sunday, Jan 3 VS. Baltimore – 4:15P CBS

The Steelers make the most sense for the Patriots week 1, and the NFL ratings for that matter. Week 2 they return for a home game against the Browns, followed by road trips to the Chiefs and Ravens. They will play their third divisional game by October 11 when the Bengals travel to Pittsburgh. The Monday night game on October 19 makes sense for the NFL/American Cancer Society “A Crucial Catch” program. Both Larry Fitzgerald and newly acquired Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams are advocates for breast cancer awareness. Also, the Tomlin vs. Arians, Steelers vs. Steelers “West” match-up is too enticing to pass up. Next, the Steelers will travel on one of their two west coast road trips prior to their bye week. This could also be Seattle, but I kept that for later in the season. The Steelers open the second half of their schedule at home against the Colts on Sunday Night Football. The second west coast road trip will be bookend by a game at Cleveland – 125 mile bus trip for the Steelers, and then a home game verse the Raiders. This will hopefully keep the Steelers happy will travel. The 49ers will visit Heinz Field December 6, and then to wrap the season, the Steelers alternate road and home games.

This would be a fair schedule, and one that makes sense. With two, long, west coast trips, only one can be proceeded by a bye week. Play all three division opponents early, and then also late in November and December. The prime time match-ups are strong ratings draws for the networks, and like I said – week 17, pending CBS protection, I can easily see the Steelers vs. Ravens moved to Sunday night if playoff implications are at stake.

Now, we will see how close I am….

Over/under 4.5 game picked on the correct dates?
Over/under 4 prime time games? (I have 5)
Bye week after west coast trip?
Patriots to open the season?

Predicted 2014 Steelers Schedule

Just a guess, but here is my take on how the 2014 Steelers schedule will look. 

 

Week 1 – @ Tennessee 1PM (They have a knack for starting the season vs. the Titans)

Week 2 – H Tampa Bay 1PM (Because there’s always that early NFC opponent)

Week 3 – @ New York Jets 1PM (If the Jets were expected to be good, this game would be in December)

Week 4 – @ Baltimore MNF (Wraps up a traveling 1st quarter of the season.  The Steelers always get bombarded with December home games.)

Week 5 – H Kansas City 430P (Just because – not too many division games stacked early in the season.  This could also be any other AFC South team – JAX or HOU)

Week 6 – H New Orleans SNF (October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign with the American Cancer Society.  Drew Brees and the Saints always have big involvement with the initiative and the Steelers draw TV ratings.  This would be a great PR and awareness tool on Sunday night across the country)

Week 7 – @ Cleveland 1P (After 2 weeks at home, this is a close road game, taking the Steelers in to the bye.  They also need another division game and Cincy would be too high profile after the Saints.)

Week 8 BYE

Week 9 – H Houston 1P (filler game after the bye)

Week 10 – @ Cincinnati 1P (This probably should and could be a prime time game, but I see them holding that for the end of the year.  Plus, this is the week I can see the Steelers also having a Thursday night game, thus giving them the early game extends their short week a few hours)

Week 11 – H Indianapolis TNF (Luck’s first trip to Pittsburgh, prime time, NFL network – of course they want to control Luck vs. Roethlisberger)

Week 12 – @ Atlanta 1P (Just because – and it will be on the road after mini-bye)

Week 13 – @ Carolina 1P (Highly unlikely to face NFC division foes back-to-back but, I need to do some shuffling to find a better alternative.  If not this, then I can see this being swapped with the Jacksonville game I have slated for week 16)

Week 14 – H Cleveland 1P (Division game onslaught per NFL scheduling practices begins NOW)

Week 15 – H Baltimore SNF (Two prime time games vs. the Ravens I can see as unlikely, which means the only other game here is Cincy – and then have the Steelers finish with the Ravens at home week 17)

Week 16 – @ Jacksonville 1P (See week 13)

Week 17 – H Cincinnati 430P (See week 15)

 

…. after reviewing this – I will make all changes indicated – so here is a better educated guess -aka hypothesis!

@-Tennessee, H-Tampa, @NYJ, @Baltimore, H- Kansas City, H – New Orleans, @Cleveland, BYE, H-Houston, @Cincinnati, H-Indianapolis, @Atlanta, @Jacksonville, H- Cleveland, H- Cincinnati, @Carolina, H- Baltimore.

 

I can see the Steelers going 2-1 or 3-0 heading in to the Ravens game week 4.  After that, they have a tough stretch against the Ravens, Chiefs, and Saints.  Being .500 after week 6 would be a positive, 4-2 would do them just fine.  Take down the Browns and get to the bye at either 4-3 or 5-2.  After the bye, Houston is a mystery, but then they have the Bengals and Colts – both possible losses.  6-4 after week 10 would set them up to control their own destiny, especially with all the division games at the end of the season.  Atlanta and Jacksonville are both highly winnable and could get the Steelers to 8-4.  Then, pending a meltdown, can assure a +.500 season with a win at home against the Browns.  after that, all bets are off.  They better be 9-4, because Cincinnati, Carolina, and Baltimore can be three straight L’s.  9-7 is what I foresee this team, but a slip here or there and they can be 7-9.  Best case, they steal a few games vs. Cincy and Baltimore.  11-5 would be that best case.