There are a lot of early win/loss projections for the Pittsburgh Steelers out there. What's usually missing with those predictions are the actual games the team will win or lose.
Realistically, if you were to say the Steelers will be 13-3, you have to arrive at the three teams they would not be able to defeat during the 2018 season. (I actually had a few more than those last year!)
So that's what I decided to do below: see which games the Steelers could lose while projecting them to finish no worse than 11-5 on the season. (Which should be good enough to win the AFC North once again.)
That means there are up to five teams who could defeat the Steelers in 2018. Brace yourself, as a couple of these are “hot” takes!
The Patriots, by virtue of lucky calls or dominant performances, have had the Steelers number in recent years.
The two teams will meet once again in Week 15 at Heinz Field. Will this finally be the game that the Steelers get over the hump? Or will they be looking ahead and fall short once again?
Regardless, I do believe this is the top prediction for a Steelers loss on anyone’s preseason schedule.
With Bucs QB Jameis Winston suspended for Week 3, the Steelers traveling to Tampa Bay and also playing on Monday Night Football, all signs point to a high probability of losing.
The Steelers have struggled against both, backup quarterbacks and on the road in recent Week 3 match ups. Last season, they dropped an overtime loss to Mike Glennon and the Chicago Bears. In 2016, they had one of their worst franchise losses ever in a 34-3 drubbing in Philadelphia, to then rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
And going back to 2015, they struggled to defeat the Rams in St. Louis, with Nick Foles and his 73.1 QB rating in that game.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick slated to be the starter, I wouldn’t necessarily mark this down as a victory until the game is played.
I’m not too confident in thinking the Steelers could beat Baltimore twice again in the same season, seeing as it took nearly a decade to do it this time. The Steelers finally swept the Ravens in the regular season series last season, for the first time since 2008.
Whether or not they can do the same again in 2018 is a tough call. The Ravens always play the Steelers tight, even when they’re not at playing their best football.
Aside from the Steelers, the Saints were one of the NFL’s hottest teams in 2017. With a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees, free agents who should further shore up an improving defense, and a dynamic number of offensive playmakers such as Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas and Mike Ingram, New Orleans could prove to be a difficult opponent.
Add in the road trip before the holidays to the hostile environment of the Mercedes Benz Superdome, only a week removed from what should be a highly emotional Patriots game at home, and you can easily see how this game could be an uphill battle for Pittsburgh.
I definitely don’t want to see the Steelers potentially lose three games in a row, however, the downward spiral that could continue through Weeks 15 and 16 against the Patriots and Saints may begin with a trip to Oakland.
This one has all of the ingredients of a disaster. Mike Tomlin’s teams have always looked sluggish playing on the West Coast. It’s also a primetime game, in a stadium where the Steelers have appeared snake bitten.
The Steleers have dropped three straight road games to the Raiders and four of their last six games total against them. Their last victory over the Raiders, at Heinz Field in 2015, saw Landry Jones step in for Ben Roethlisberger and finish with a Chris Boswell walk-off field goal to win 38-35 with four seconds remaining in the game.
The last time the Steelers defeated their Silver and Black foes on the road?
Way back in 1995: the first year the Raiders moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles!
Often, making predictions about a football schedule this early in the year is an exercise in futility. However, the concept was fun to lay out in written words.
The Steelers may or may not have a tough schedule. On paper it looks formidable, but it’s also early July and a lot can happen between now and December.
Making an educated guess now, I feel pretty good about Pittsburgh's odds of having another great season. If they can once against sweep the AFC North and prove to be a capable road team, there aren’t many teams who should stand in their way.