Overreactions from Steelers Nation: The NFL schedule release

Welcome to my weekly edition of “Overreactions from Steelers Nation” a weekly column where I poke fun at fans, reporters, and so-called experts while trying to figure out if some of these hot takes are real – or just for attention.

I tend to poke fun at a lot of offseason news, but none could be sillier than stories surrounding the NFL schedule release.

Much like free agency and the NFL Draft, the schedule release has its own aura of anticipation. Unlike the other two, we already know most of what’s going to happen before the full calendar is announced.

I know I’ve given my two cents on mock drafts and how nonsensical that can be. (Especially when the season isn’t over yet.) The same can be said for free agency, when players are still negotiating with their current team but various writers clickbait headlines about a star moving to Team Y, only to see them re-sign with Team X.

Embed from Getty Images

However, the NFL schedule release may now be on a level of ridiculousness that supersedes all of the other clickbait throughout the offseason. The league has perpetuated this insanity by handing out breadcrumbs throughout the process, first announcing new international game sites. The NFL then releases smidges of information, but not for every team.

The best part is when someone leaks the schedule a day or two in advance, for us to find out on Wednesday at 8 pm Eastern that the entire leak was wrong. Hell, some of the leaks contradict one another, which makes it even more phony to believe. Yet, fans will overreact and believe its true.

Right now I’m staring down the gun of a handful of Kansas City Chiefs announcements – some verified due to being posted by the teams or the league, and others that are rumors.

The Steelers aren’t immune from this nonsense, with their Week 1 game having been leaked, as new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith travels with the team to face his former employer, the Atlanta Falcons.

The other hot rumor surrounding the Steelers is a Christmas Day game, which is already being built up as a new exclusive streaming partnership between the NFL and Netflix. The smoke around this fire is likely true, as Netflix will demand the biggest audience possible for their $150 million-per-game deal.

What audience is bigger than Steelers Nation for TV ratings? Not many.

Steelers 2024 Opponents

Then there’s the lunacy of “they play who and where?” Well, that much was already decided with how the NFL schedule is calculated each season. In fact, we knew all but two or three of the opponents before the 2023 season kicked off, since the league is on a rotating schedule. The Steelers will always play six games against their division opponents, the Bengals, Browns, Ravens. They play these opponents twice each, with one game at home and the other away.

The AFC North then challenges two other divisions in full: one from the AFC (AFC West) and one from the NFC (NFC East). These the four opponents from each division (eight games) are common for the Steelers, Bengals, Browns, and Ravens each season.

That comprises 14 of the 17 games on the schedule. The three remaining games are filled by finding the common finish opponent in the other two AFC divisions the North isn’t already playing. (The AFC East and AFC South, represented by the Jets and Colts respectively.) The final game is rotated between home and away each season, against an overall common finish opponent from the NFC. (This season will be the Atlanta Falcons.)

Embed from Getty Images

The only question marks remaining are when these teams will face each other. With the slew of primetime options available on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and now Friday or Saturday nights in the winter, the eagerness of fans who want to make plans to attend these games is at a fever pitch.

Long gone are the tried-and-true Sunday 1 pm ET kickoffs of yesteryear, so those of us that plan our weekends in the fall around the NFL schedule are patiently waiting to see if we’ll have some fair-weather games as well as if we need to bump dinner time up during the holidays. Stay tuned!

Suggested articles from our sponsors