Pittsburgh had its best regular season in more than a decade last year. This year could be Super Bowl or bust.
The Rights and Wrongs of 2017
The year was 2004. That’s the last time Pittsburgh suffered only three losses in the regular season.
In 2017, Pittsburgh did all the right things, but nothing is perfect and there were three major hiccups:
1. The Steelers lost to the Bears, in OT. Week 3 at Soldier Field may have been Pittsburgh’s first sign that it wasn’t going to win the Super Bowl last season. A slow start to the game left them scrambling and, ultimately, falling short in overtime.
2. Jacksonville’s offense couldn’t be stopped by Pittsburgh’s defense. In Week 5, the Jags scored a cool-30 on the Steel City in the Steel City. What?
3. The rest of the regular season was smooth sailing, but in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Steelers and Jags met again. This time, Pittsburgh scored big, but Jacksonville scored bigger. The final score: no defense vs. absolutely no defense.
That playoff loss to the Jags left Pittsburgh in a bad spot. It was the most points given up in a home playoff game in franchise history.
Don’t get your Terrible Towels too twisted. This is a team that’s earned 10+ wins every season for the last four seasons.
They were accused of looking too far ahead to a potential matchup against the New England Patriots—who the Steelers lost to in Week 15, their third and final loss of the regular season.
But don’t get your Terrible Towels too twisted. This is a team that’s earned 10+ wins every season for the last four seasons. So what will it take to do it again in Year 5? Not overlook anyone.
New Offensive Weapons and Old
The Steelers drafted two Oklahoma State players – wide receiver James Washington (with the 60th pick in the second round) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (with the 75th overall pick in the third round), giving former Oklahoma and current PGH backup Landry Jones some Bedlam rivalries to throw to.
But that’s if Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown (who was voted in the Top 5 as one of the Top 100 players of 2017 by his peers) and Ben Roethlisberger all decide to not show up for this season.
Expect the same named stars to do the same big name things. Just hope Pittsburgh returns the Steel Curtain to its defense.
Pittsburgh does Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh gets another 10+ victories, another spot in the playoffs and another shot at the post-season New England Patriots.
And this time, Tomlin’s gamble pays off.
Week 1: Sept. 9 at Cleveland Browns*
One has had the same QB basically since we were all babies. The other has had probably 20 in that same time.
Week 2: Sept. 16 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has a new QB in town and by Week 2 isn’t the time for them to pull an upset.
Week 3: Sept. 24 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If the Bucs pull all their pieces together, they could be unstoppable and this week, it all clicks.
Week 4: Sept. 30 vs. Baltimore Ravens*
Baltimore had offensive woes. Pittsburgh almost never does.
Week 5: Oct. 7 vs. Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan and Le’Veon Bell vs. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown? We’re going Steelers at home.
Week 6: Oct. 14 at Cincinnati Bengals*
Pittsburgh has won the last six meetings. Make it seven if Marvin Lewis hasn’t been fired by this point in the season.
Week 7: Bye Week
Week 8: Oct. 28 vs. Cleveland Browns*
Is Big Ben & Co. still in the same city? Does the sun still set in the West?
Week 9: Nov. 4 at Baltimore Ravens*
Big Ben > more consistent > Joe Flacco
Week 10: Nov. 8 vs. Carolina Panthers
Somehow Ben Roethlisberger keeps getting older and the Steelers keep being in preseason Super Bowl conversations. There must be something in that city’s steel.
Week 11: Nov. 18 at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags offense makes Pittsburgh’s defense look bad. They hung 75 points on them in two games last season (including 45 in the postseason.) And neither of those were home games for the Jags
Week 12: Nov. 25 at Denver Broncos
Case Keenum knows how to stir up the waters. Just look at what he did last season with the Vikings in the postseason. We see an upset (even if this is a home game.)
Week 13: Dec. 2 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Roethlisberger and (Philip) Rivers. Talk about a quarterback battle.
Week 14: Dec. 9 at Oakland Raiders
Khalil Mack shines in the first meeting between the two teams since 2015.
Week 15: Dec. 16 vs. New England Patriots
Brady vs. Ben. Belichick vs. Tomlin. This is a match-up we’ll always tell our grandkids about.
Week 16: Dec. 23 at New Orleans Saints
Steel City’s stars are nearing retirement age and Big Ben may have a few upsets left in him. But Drew Brees has this home turf on lockdown.
Week 17: Dec. 30 vs. Cincinnati Bengals*
The last time the Bengals pulled an upset in the Steel City was in 2015. And they usually pull off a win against the Steelers every two to three years, but this year isn’t in the cards for Lewis & his team.
*denotes AFC North game