Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 schedule: Hardest stretch, opponent preview, pivotal matchups, predictions and extra

The usual remains to be the usual. 

Regardless of going through the NFL‘s hardest schedule this season, Mike Tomlin is holding his staff’s sights set on pursuing the franchise’s seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy. In the event that they need to make a Super Bowl run, Pittsburgh will first must get by means of a aggressive AFC North division that features two groups that made the playoffs in 2020 within the Ravens and the Browns. Talking of the Browns, it was Cleveland that staged an upset of Pittsburgh within the wild card spherical of the 2020 playoffs. 

The Steelers are a distinct staff from the one which misplaced 5 of their final six video games in 2020. They acquired a number of key gamers within the draft that features operating again Najee Harris, tight finish Pat Freiermuth, offensive linemen Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr., linebacker Buddy Johnson move rusher Quincy Roche. The Steelers had been additionally capable of re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster, the staff’s chief in catches, receiving yards and landing receptions for the reason that begin of the 2017 season. Pittsburgh additionally restructured the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, thus permitting him to return for what might be his last season.  

Whereas a number of key gamers are gone, Pittsburgh’s roster nonetheless contains a few of the NFL’s most gifted veterans. That listing contains Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster, receivers Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, tight finish Eric Ebron, defensive linemen Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu, linebackers T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, and Robert Spillane, cornerback Joe Haden, and security Minkah Fitzpatrick. This nucleus helped the Steelers roll to an 11-0 begin final 12 months earlier than accidents, a grueling slate within the schedule (Pittsburgh was compelled to play three video games in a 12-day span), dropped passes and an absence of a operating recreation led to en early playoff exit. 

The Steelers targeted on plugging their largest holes this offseason whereas additionally minimizing a few of their losses. Among the many staff’s key free agent acquisitions had been lineman Trai Turner and move rusher Melvin Ingram. The Steelers not too long ago added to their protection by buying former Professional Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert through a commerce with Jacksonville. 

Pittsburgh continues to be led by Tomlin, who in his 14 years on the job has by no means posted a dropping season. All through that point, Tomlin has labored in live performance with basic supervisor Kevin Colbert, whose eye for expertise has helped the Steelers win two Tremendous Bowls, three AFC titles and 10 division titles throughout his 21 years with the group. The duo is hoping that their present roster is nice sufficient to publish one other profitable season whereas holding tempo with the opposite prime groups within the convention, a lot of which the Steelers will see throughout the common season. 

William Hill Sportsbook has the Steelers‘ Over/Below set at 9 video games, which was the identical projection the Steelers acquired final offseason. Under, you’ll be able to take a look at my week-by-week breakdown and predictions of each recreation recreation on Pittsburgh’s 2021 schedule, together with every staff’s Over/Below set by William Hill. However first, let’s check out a number of notable takeaways from the Steelers’ schedule in addition to pinpointing the hardest a part of their upcoming journey. 

Want a fast betting primer in your favourite NFL team for the 2021 season? Listed here are hyperlinks to schedule breakdowns for all 32 clubs.

Key schedule observations

  • Pittsburgh’s opponents posted a cumulative .574 profitable share in 2020, making the Steelers’ schedule the NFL’s hardest
  • 10 video games in opposition to 2020 playoff groups  
  • 5 prime-time video games that embrace a Week 17 playoff rematch in opposition to the visiting Browns
  • Week 7 bye
  • 5 of Steelers final six video games are in opposition to 2020 playoff groups 

Hardest stretch

Pittsburgh’s Week 13-18 stretch is a frightening one. It begins with a house recreation in opposition to the Ravens earlier than heading to Minnesota for a Thursday night time matchup with the Vikings. From there, the Steelers host the reigning AFC South champion Titans earlier than going to Kansas Metropolis to face the two-time defending AFC champion Chiefs. Pittsburgh will then host the Browns on “Monday Evening Soccer” earlier than closing out the common season in Baltimore. 

On to the predictions:

Buffalo Bills  

Week 1 – Monday, Sept. 12 
Location: Highmark Stadium (Orchard Park, New York) 
Time: 1 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 13-3
Collection document: 16-11 (Steelers lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 10.5 

For a seventh straight 12 months, the Steelers will begin the season on the highway. In Week 14 of the 2020 season, the Steelers took an early lead earlier than the Payments’ protection took over in what was ultimately a 26-15 win for the house staff. The Payments can be favored, however one thing is telling me that the Steelers’ new offensive recreation plan (with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada) might assist Pittsburgh catch Buffalo off guard. The Steelers’ protection can even be out to show that they’re nonetheless one of many NFL’s finest items after dropping Bud Dupree this offseason. That being mentioned, I am nonetheless choosing the Payments in what needs to be one of many higher 1 p.m. video games on the NFL’s Week 1 slate. 

Prediction: Payments 20, Steelers 16

Las Vegas Raiders  

Week 2 – Sunday, Sept. 19 
Location: Heinz Subject (Pittsburgh) 
Time: 1 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 8-8
Collection document: 16-13 (Raiders lead)  
Opponent win complete: O/U 7.5

The Steelers will host what is predicted to be a sellout Heinz Subject crowd for the primary time in over two years. Impressed by the house crowd, Pittsburgh beats its previous rival behind Roethlisberger and his deep receiving corps. Harris also needs to have success in opposition to a Las Vegas protection that completed simply twenty fourth within the league in dashing in 2020. The Steelers’ protection — a unit that has had points in opposition to tight ends prior to now — will certainly be dialed in on Darren Waller, who has caught 197 passes over the previous two seasons. For that purpose, the return of Bush (who missed most of final season with a torn ACL) is massive on this matchup. 

Prediction: Steelers 28, Raiders 17

Cincinnati Bengals   

First Assembly: Week 3 (Heinz Subject, Pittsburgh) – Sunday, Sept. 26, 1 p.m. ET 
Second Assembly: Week 12 (Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati) – Nov. 28, 1 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 4-11-1
Collection document: 67-36 (Steelers lead)
Opponent win complete: O/U 6.5

Pittsburgh cut up its two video games in opposition to the Cincinnati in 2020. They defeated the Bengals with relative ease (36-10) in Week 10 earlier than dropping to a Ryan Finley-led Bengals staff in Cincinnati in Week 15. The Bengals made a couple of roster enhancements that features the signing of move rusher Trey Hendrickson and rookies Ja’Marr Chase, Jackson Carman, and Joseph Ossai. The Bengals’ largest query is whether or not or not quarterback Joe Burrow can keep wholesome for a whole season. If he can, Burrow ought to be capable to assist the Bengals get nearer towards respectability in his second pro season. That being mentioned, I do not see Burrow’s first win in opposition to the Steelers occurring in 2021. Assuming they’re comparatively wholesome for each matchups, the Steelers are merely a deeper, extra gifted staff that has largely had their manner with the Bengals throughout Large Ben’s profession. The Bengals’ deep receiving corps is one thing Steelers followers needs to be leery of in each matchups. 

Week 3 Prediction: Steelers 31, Bengals 16

Week 12 Prediction: Steelers 24, Bengals 20

Green Bay Packers 

Week 5 – Sunday, Oct. 3
Location: Lambeau Subject (Inexperienced Bay, Wisconsin)
Time: 4:25 p.m. 
2020 document: 13-3
Collection document: 19-16 (Packers)
Opponent win complete: O/U 11

Assuming Aaron Rodgers remains to be in Inexperienced Bay, this can be a basic battle between two future Corridor of Fame quarterbacks. Large Ben and Rodgers cut up their first two matchups that features the Packers’ 31-25 win over the Steelers in Tremendous Bowl XLV. Roethlisberger ought to handle to have success in opposition to Inexperienced Bay’s suspect move protection, however the Steelers could wrestle to include Rodgers’ and Inexperienced Bay’s formidable passing assault, led by perennial Professional Bowl receiver Davante Adams

Prediction: Packers 28, Steelers 20

Denver Broncos  

Week 5 – Sunday, Oct. 10
Location: Heinz Subject (Pittsburgh) 
Time: 1 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 5-11
Collection document: 21-12-1 (Broncos lead)
Opponent win complete: O/U 7.5

The Steelers, regardless of Drew Lock struggling an damage within the first quarter, wanted a late defensive stand to clinch a 26-21 win over the visiting Broncos in Week 2 of the 2020 season. Pittsburgh particularly had points containing the Broncos’ receivers that included Courtland Sutton (three catches, 66 yards), Jerry Jeudy (4 catches, 62 yards) and tight finish Noah Fant (4 catches, 57 yards, one landing). Anticipate the Steelers to maintain their foot on the gasoline pedal this time, as T.J. Watt and the remainder of Pittsburgh’s protection look to feast on a Broncos offense that was simply twenty eighth within the league in scoring final season. 

Prediction: Steelers 27, Broncos 17

Seattle Seahawks  

Week 6 – Sunday, Oct. 17
Location: Heinz Subject (Pittsburgh) 
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Evening Soccer) 
2020 document: 12-4
Collection document: 10-9 (Seahawks lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 9.5

The Steelers have been exceptionally good below Tomlin on prime time video games, particularly at residence. They’ve additionally been traditionally good in video games heading right into a bye. All of this being mentioned, I do not see the Steelers driving into their bye with a 5-1 document. The Steelers’ offense ought to be capable to benefit from a Seahawks move protection that was thirty first within the NFL in 2020. Moreover, Pittsburgh’s move rush ought to be capable to apply constant stress on Russell Wilson, who was taken down 47 instances final season. The distinction within the Steelers profitable and dropping this recreation could come all the way down to containing Wilson and receivers D.Ok. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. If the Steelers permit Wilson to make Houdini-like performs, they will head into their bye with a loss. 

Prediction: Seahawks, 28-24

Cleveland Browns   

First assembly: Week 8 (FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland) – Sunday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. ET 
Second assembly: Week 17 (Heinz Subject, Pittsburgh) – Sunday, Jan. 3, 8:20 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 11-5 
Collection File: 77-61-1 (Steelers lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 10

Already one of many league’s finest rosters, Cleveland added to it this offseason with the signings of former Rams defensive backs Troy Hill and John Johnson. The Browns furthered strengthened their secondary with the number of rookie Greg Newsome II. Cleveland’s offense is welcoming again former Professional Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who returns to a Cleveland offense that additionally contains receiver Jarvis Landry, quarterback Baker Mayfield and operating backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Oh, the Browns’ roster additionally contains one of many NFL’s premier pass-rushers in Myles Garrett

Lengthy gone are the times the place the Steelers followers might examine off each video games in opposition to the Browns as wins. In reality, you’ll be able to name a cut up on this 12 months’s season sequence with Cleveland successful for Pittsburgh. The Steelers, assuming Harris and firm can benefit from Cleveland’s considerably suspect inside defensive position, ought to be capable to get a cut up in opposition to their longtime division rival. 

Week 8 Prediction: Browns, 24-20
Week 17 Prediction: Steelers, 20-17

Chicago Bears   

Week 9 – Sunday, No. 8 
Location: Heinz Subject (Pittsburgh) 
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET (Monday Evening Soccer) 
2020 document: 8-8 
Collection document: 19-7-1 (Bears lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 7.5

The Steelers do not play the Bears too usually, however they’re very conversant in Chicago beginning quarterback Andy Dalton, who spent 9 seasons because the starter in Cincinnati. Dalton is a stable participant, however the Steelers’ move rush ought to be capable to get him off of his recreation. On offense, the important thing can be containing the Bears’ ferocious linebacker corps, led by Khalil Mack. By this level within the season, the Steelers’ offense needs to be coming into kind, which might be dangerous information for Mack and the remainder of Chicago’s protection. 

Prediction: Steelers 35, Bears 17 

Detroit Lions   

Week 10 – Sunday, No. 14
Location: Heinz Subject (Pittsburgh) 
Time: 1 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 5-11 
Collection document: 17-14 (Steelers lead)  
Opponent win complete: O/U 5

So long as they maintain the ball, the Steelers should not have too many points in opposition to the Lions. One matchup value keeping track of is Lions rookie proper sort out Penei Sewell in opposition to Steelers second-year move rusher Alex Highsmith. Highsmith and his defensive teammates can even look to include second-year operating again D’Andre Swift whereas making Detroit’s offense one-dimensional. Offensively, Large Ben ought to be capable to benefit from what was the NFL’s thirty second ranked scoring protection in 2020. 

Prediction: Steelers, 31-13

Los Angeles Chargers

Week 11 – Sunday, No. 21
Location: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, California)
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Evening Soccer) 
2020 document: 7-9 
Collection document: 24-10 (Steelers lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 9

The Steelers will get their first take a look at Justin Herbert, the reigning Rookie of the Yr who led the Chargers to 4 straight wins to shut out the 2020 season. Pittsburgh, after dropping Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton this offseason, could wrestle in opposition to groups which have gifted receiving duos. This would be the case in Los Angeles, the place the Chargers boast one of many NFL’s prime receiving duos in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The Steelers can even must include Austin Ekeler, one of many league’s most versatile operating backs. Offensively, Pittsburgh should preserve Joey Bosa away from Roethlisberger, which can be a collaborative effort.  

Prediction: Chargers 24, Steelers 17 

Baltimore Ravens 

First assembly: Week 13 (Heinz Subject, Pittsburgh) – Sunday, Dec. 5, 4:25 p.m. ET 
Second assembly: Week 18 (M&T Financial institution Stadium, Baltimore) – Sunday, Jan. 3, 8:20 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 11-5 
Collection File: 30-20 (Steelers lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 11

Whereas it is a quick pattern measurement (two video games), Lamar Jackson has but to have an enormous recreation in opposition to the Steelers’ protection. Baltimore did give Jackson extra weapons for his future matchups in opposition to Pittsburgh that features veteran receiver Sammy Watkins and rookie Rashod Bateman. The Ravens signed a former Steelers’ starter — offensive sort out Alejandro Villanueva — to assist substitute Orlando Brown. Baltimore nonetheless possesses the league’s prime dashing assault, led by second-year operating again J.K. Dobbins. Defensively, the Ravens misplaced a number of massive title gamers however nonetheless have a number of studs that embrace defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell, nostril sort out Brandon Williams, and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Baltimore’s has a younger however promising inside linebacker duo in Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison

Jackson and Baltimore’s offense will make their share of performs, so these matchups will doubtless come all the way down to how profitable the Steelers’ offense will be in opposition to the Ravens’ protection. That is the place Harris could make a large distinction because it pertains to holding Pittsburgh’s offense balanced. If Harris and the Steelers’ operating recreation can maintain their very own in opposition to the Ravens, that can open issues up for Roethlisberger and the passing recreation. Large Ben ought to be capable to benefit from the center of Baltimore’s protection. Moreover, he ought to be capable to convert on some deep pictures in opposition to the Ravens’ underwhelming safeties. The Ravens are among the many AFC’s finest groups, however the Steelers are adequate to separate the season sequence in opposition to their arch rival. 

Week 13 Prediction: Ravens 23, Steelers 20 

Week 18 Prediction: Steelers 19, Ravens 17

Minnesota Vikings   

Week 14 – Sunday Dec. 9
Location: U.S. Again Stadium (Minneapolis) 
Time: 8:20 p.m. (Thursday Evening Soccer) 
2020 document: 7-9 
Collection document: 9-9
Opponent win complete: O/U 8.5

Whereas this smells like a loss, I am predicting a shock win for the Steelers, who can be motivated following a loss at residence to Baltimore 4 days earlier. Pittsburgh’s offense ought to have success in opposition to a protection that completed twenty ninth within the league in scoring final season. The important thing matchup right here is the Steelers’ protection in opposition to the Vikings’ gifted offensive trio of operating again Dalvin Cook (1,557 dashing yards in simply 14 video games in 2020) and receivers Justin Jefferson (1,400 receiving yards final season) and Adam Thielen (14 landing receptions in 2020). The Steelers did not beat Seattle heading into their bye, however a win right here would give them 10 days off earlier than going through their subsequent opponent. 

Prediction: Steelers 19, Vikings 13 

Tennessee Titans

Week 16 – Sunday, Dec. 19
Location: Heinz Subject (Pittsburgh) 
Time: 1 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 11-5 
Collection document: 47-32 (Steelers lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 9.5

Pittsburgh streaked out to a 27-7 lead in Nashville in Week 7 of the 2020 season earlier than hanging on for a 27-24 win. The Steelers loved days from Johnson and Smith-Schuster, who caught a mixed 18 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Pittsburgh will doubtless want extra from their operating recreation this time round, nevertheless, because the Steelers’ lack of a operating recreation restricted them to simply three factors throughout the second half of final 12 months’s matchup. Defensively, the main target can be on containing two-time league dashing champion Derrick Henry, who was held to 75 yards in final 12 months’s assembly. The Titans are thought-about a authentic risk to return out of the AFC, however the Steelers ought to be capable to maintain enterprise at residence earlier than heading on the highway to face what has been the convention’s finest staff over the previous two years. 

Prediction: Steelers 20, Titans 17 

Kansas Metropolis Chiefs 

Week 16 – Sunday, Dec. 26
Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas Metropolis, Missouri) 
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET 
2020 document: 14-2 
Collection document: 23-12 (Steelers lead) 
Opponent win complete: O/U 12

Of their first matchup (Week 2 of the 2018 season), Roethlisberger and Mahomes mixed to throw for 778 yards and 9 touchdowns within the Chiefs’ 42-37 win in Pittsburgh. On condition that this recreation can be performed in Kansas Metropolis the day after Christmas, do not anticipate an identical output from these quarterbacks. If climate is an element, that will profit Harris and the Steelers, who’re hoping that an improved dashing assault might help Pittsburgh have extra late-season success than in latest seasons. Like many video games on their schedule, this recreation could finally come all the way down to how properly Pittsburgh’s secondary does an above-average passing assault. On this case, it is the NFL’s finest quarterback and a receiving corps that options Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Pittsburgh might definitely pull off an upset, however it could be one thing of a Christmas Miracle. 

Prediction: Chiefs 27, Steelers 17

Steelers 2021 season projection
Ultimate document: 10-7
Ultimate convention document: 7-5 
Ultimate division document: 4-2 | Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 schedule: Hardest stretch, opponent preview, pivotal matchups, predictions and extra


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