Examining, and explaining, why the Steelers have a weak strength of schedule

There are a lot of fans who initially saw the Baltimore Ravens as having the easiest schedule, on paper, for the upcoming 2020 NFL season. However, what they also missed, is that the Steelers have the second-easiest schedule as well: and that’s due to having common opponents.

The strength of schedule is predicated on a team’s opponents this year based on what they (the opponents) did last year.

Therefore, it’s not always an accurate depiction of how difficult or easy the road ahead might be, due to roster changes in the offseason. Some teams get better through the NFL Draft and free agency acquisitions while others watch their top talents depart for greener pastures elsewhere and become weaker.

Keeping that in mind, the Steelers have the second easiest schedule, ahead of only the Baltimore Ravens, as they will battle teams with an average winning percentage of .457 in 2019.

That’s due to the AFC North facing the NFC East and AFC South this upcoming season: neither of which had teams who were largely successful in 2019.

Conversely, the team with the toughest schedule is the New England Patriots, as they will kick off 2020 without their legendary quarterback Tom Brady under center for the first time in two decades. (There is little doubt no tears will be shed for Bill Belichick and his perennial playoff contenders from New England.)

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the entire 2020 slate.

Steelers Regular Season Schedule

1 09/14/2020 7:15 PM @ New York Giants MetLife Stadium
2 09/20/2020 1:00 PM Denver Broncos Heinz Field
3 09/27/2020 1:00 PM Houston Texans Heinz Field
4 10/04/2020 1:00 PM @ Tennessee Titans Nissan Stadium
5 10/11/2020 1:00 PM Philadelphia Eagles Heinz Field
6 10/18/2020 1:00 PM Cleveland Browns Heinz Field
7 10/25/2020 1:00 PM @ Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium
8 10/01/2020 BYE WEEK
9 11/08/2020 4:25 PM @ Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium
10 11/15/2020 1:00 PM Cincinnati Bengals Heinz Field
11 11/22/2020 1:00 PM @ Jacksonville Jaguars TIAA Bank Stadium
12 11/26/2020 8:20 PM Baltimore Ravens Heinz Field
13 12/06/2020 1:00 PM Washington Redskins Heinz Field
14 12/13/2020 8:20 PM @ Buffalo Bills New Era Field
15 12/21/2020 8:15 PM @ Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium
16 12/27/2020 1:00 PM Indianapolis Colts Heinz Field
17 01/03/2021 1:00 PM @ Cleveland Browns FirstEnergy Stadium

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Steelers Updated Odds

Pittsburgh fans have to keep their fingers crossed that Big Ben Roethlisberger stays upright and healthy throughout the season if the Steelers are to make their way into the postseason. The odds for the Steelers at BetOnline tell us that Pittsburgh has a season win total of 9 ½ (O-140) while their odds to win the AFC North sit at +350, behind only the heavily favored Ravens at -190 but ahead of the Browns (+450) and Bengals (+2200).

If we dare to dream, the Steelers are in the middle of the pack in terms of odds to win the Super Bowl at +4000. However, we all know that the Ravens and the Chiefs are favored to win it all this season.

As always, the Steelers have the daunting prospect of facing their division rivals from Baltimore twice this season, as they do every year, which could make things interesting.

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Looking ahead

The Steelers schedule is highlighted by a four primetime games as well as some key matchups as well as rematches from last season.

The interstate battle with the Philadelphia Eagles is always a game to look forward too, and luckily, is being played a Heinz Field. The Steelers haven’t won in Philadelphia in over forty years, while the Eagles have won seven of their last 10 meetings against the Steelers. However, the last two matches played in Pittsburgh have been won by the Steelers.

The Steelers host the aforementioned Ravens for a big clash Thanksgiving night. I have no doubt there will be some video replays of Mike Tomlin’s infamous standing on the field during a Jacoby Jones kick return during their previous Thanksgiving encounter years ago.

The Dallas Cowboys are among the league’s most popular teams: it will be interesting to see if Steelers Nation can put a dent in the crowd noise at AT&T Stadium in the same way Cowboys fans did to Heinz Field back in 2016.

Finally, a short trip to Buffalo to face a resurgent Bills franchise should be intriguing as well. The Steelers-Bills game near the end of last season had major playoff implications. Bills fans invaded the Steelers home turf due to a lower turnout with a reeling Pittsburgh franchise: a complete role reversal from when Steelers fans took up many seats in Buffalo during a snowy December afternoon in 2016.

These games look like the early favorites, but any encounter with the Cleveland Browns could also turnout to be electric, as we witnessed with the brawls at the end of the Thursday night matchup last season.

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