Pittsburgh went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for just the second time in head coach Mike Tomlin's six seasons. Will the Steelers bounce back this fall? Here's our look at the Steelers' 2013 NFL schedule.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Schedule:
Week 1: Tennessee
Week 2: at Cincinnati (Mon.)
Week 3: Chicago
Week 4: Minnesota (London)
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: at New York Jets
Week 7: Baltimore
Week 8: at Oakland
Week 9: at New England
Week 10: Buffalo
Week 11: Detroit
Week 12: at Cleveland
Week 13: at Baltimore (Thurs.)
Week 14: Miami
Week 15: Cincinnati
Week 16: at Green Bay
Week 17: Cleveland
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Out of the Gate: Pittsburgh has three "home" games in September, but it should be pointed out that one of these will be played at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The Steelers do get the luxury of opening at home against Tennessee, which should allow them the opportunity of ironing out any kinks before the Monday night showdown in Cincinnati in Week 2. Then it's back home to host Chicago before flying across the pond to play Minnesota in London. When the Steelers go on bye in Week 5 they should do so with no worse than a 2-2 record and even that would have to be considered a mild disappointment.
Toughest Stretch: For the most part, the Steelers' schedule is fairly balanced throughout the season. There is a span of five games starting in late November during which Pittsburgh will play at Cleveland and Baltimore back-to-back, the latter taking place Thanksgiving night, and also will face Cincinnati (home) and Green Bay (away). The game between these pairs isn't without its own intrigue, as Miami's trip to Heinz Field in Week 14 also will serve as a homecoming for former Steeler wideout Mike Wallace. That's three divisional games, two of them coming on the road, a trip to Lambeau Field and an emotionally charged home game crammed into a period of less than 30 days.
Easiest Stretch: Following its Week 5 bye, Pittsburgh will play just two teams that made the playoffs last season over its next six games. Baltimore, the defending Super Bowl champs and hated arch rival is one of the opponents during this span, but this game will be played at Heinz Field. The only other team the Steelers will face that posted a winning record last season is New England, and this trip to Foxborough, Mass., is preceded by a road game in Oakland and followed by a home date with Buffalo. The opener to this six-game stretch is a visit to the Big Apple to play the Jets and it wraps up with the Lions at home. Even with the Ravens and Patriots sprinkled in, Pittsburgh should be able to make the most of its October through mid-November slate.
Circle The Calendar: The Bears' Week 3 visit is special if for no other reason, the history surrounding two of the NFL's oldest and most successful franchises. Crossover play with the NFC North also means a Super Bowl XLV rematch with Green Bay at Lambeau Field in late December, as Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers go head-to-head. Earlier that month, a visit from Miami will serve as a homecoming for new Dolphin wide receiver Mike Wallace. And of course, let's not forget about the Steelers' annual double-header with the Ravens, which is always entertaining, not to mention typically important as it relates to the AFC North division race and overall playoff picture. Looking for something extra to add to to this season's meetings? How about the fact that Baltimore is the defending Super Bowl champions and that the second game will serve as dessert for the NFL's Thanksgiving Day triple-header.
Divisional Notes: Baltimore and Cincinnati, and not Pittsburgh, were playoff teams last season, which adds to the intrigue and competitiveness of this season's battle in the AFC North. The Steelers open divisional play at Cincinnati in Week 2, on "Monday Night Football" naturally, and will host the Ravens in Week 7. Back-to-back road games in Cleveland and Baltimore await Pittsburgh in Weeks 12 and 13, with the tilt with the Ravens taking place on Thanksgiving night. The Bengals and Browns come to Heinz Field in late December, and a road trip to Green Bay sandwiched in between only adds to the degree of difficulty there.
Playoff Push: The Steelers play the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, so technically they play just four games in December. Even with three of the four at home, Pittsburgh will have its work cut off for them during its final month, as Miami and former Steeler wideout Mike Wallace, along with divisional foes Cincinnati and Cleveland will be invading Heinz Field. The Bengals in particular could be battling for a playoff spot and/or positioning when they arrive in Week 15. And as far as that lone road game in December goes, it's just a trip to Green Bay to play the Packers on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field a couple of days before Christmas with, more than likely, playoff implications for both conferences on the line. What's so tough about that?
Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): Even with only one road game during the fantasy playoffs, don’t underestimate the Steelers’ opponents. Miami, Cincinnati and Green Bay all finished among the top 18 in terms of fantasy points allowed to QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs last season. The Bengals in particular were pretty tough on QBs (fifth) and WRs (third). Watch out Big Ben and Antonio Brown — these cats have claws.
2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: