The Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 schedule has been officially announced, and while many of the opponents were already known in advance, the details of when those games would be played have now been made public.
Let's take a look at who the Steelers play, where they will play, and when they play them.
— Zac Celedonia(SCU) (@ZeFlash1) April 21, 2017
AFC North Opponents
Baltimore Ravens (8-8), Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1), Cleveland Browns (1-15)
The usual division tilt features a home-and-home series with each of the Steelers three AFC North opponents.
Some trends which have developed over several years include the Steelers losing on the road to the Ravens, the Steelers mostly winning against the Bengals at either venue, and the Cleveland Browns being fortunate that the NFL doesn't have relegation like foreign soccer organizations do! (For those who aren't aware, if a soccer club doesn't win over in Europe, they are usually sent down to a lower division!)
Regardless, the Steelers open up with and closeout the season with the Cleveland Browns. They also play in primetime against both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens (pending flex scheduling, of course!)
AFC South Opponents
@ Houston Texans (9-7), @ Indianapolis Colts (8-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13), Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Pittsburgh will host the Jaguars and Titans while traveling to face the Texans and Colts. Weather will not factor into either of the road games, as both Houston and Indianapolis both play in dome stadiums.
What will be a factor is the Steelers playing on a second consecutive Christmas Day, with the NFL somehow deciding it was prudent to force the players to have a game on a Christmas Monday this year. (Ugh!)
NFC North Opponents
@ Chicago Bears (3-13), @ Detroit Lions (9-7), Green Bay Packers (10-6), Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
It looks like Pittsburgh will luck out when it comes to weather with their NFC North slate as well. They will avoid any late year trips to Green Bay and Chicago, as the Packers come to Heinz Field and the Steelers travel to Soldier Field in mid-September.
They also avoid a potential mess of playing outdoors in Chicago since the game is being played earlier in the year. I would also suspect that Detroit could be a popular travel destination for Steelers Nation as well.
@ Kansas City Chiefs (12-4), New England Patriots (14-2)
As a division champion in 2016, the Steelers draw the misfortune of a "stronger" schedule for their final two spots on the calendar. (At least on paper.)
As you may have noticed already, six of sixteen games are occupied by games against division opponents, while each NFL franchise then faces two other divisions, for a total of eight more games. That leaves two more vacancies, which get filled by facing other division champions from the previous season.
That means the Steelers will once again host the New England Patriots at Heinz Field, plus receive yet another contest against the Kansas City Chiefs. (Doesn't it seem as though they play each other every year?)
The late season Week 15 match up between the Steelers and Patriots could have playoff implication, specifically if both teams are vying for a first round bye. And as with the other games on the schedule, Pittsburgh also avoids potentially nasty weather at Arrowhead, with the game being played in mid-October.
I hate the Christmas Day idea, but in general, the Steelers have a favorable schedule where they should avoid miserable cold/snow situations in places known to be unbearable in the latter weeks of the season (notably Chicago and KC). The bye week is situated between two road games (both played in dome stadiums) with a Thursday Night Football home game against the Titans leading into a "mini-bye" with a few days off to prepare for another home game against the Packers.
The only block of games I'm not looking forward to are the first three of four games being played on the road, and a Monday Night game in Cincy shortening the week's preparation to host the Ravens.
Otherwise, I'm as excited as anyone for the 2017 NFL season to get here!