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.