The 5 Games That Will Determine the Pittsburgh Steelers' Fate in 2013
If a team takes any game lightly then there is a good chance it will come away with a loss on any given week no matter who the opponent is.
That being said you can mostly point to a few games every year that can be used as a barometer for how good a team will be that season.
Not included in this list are any divisional games for the Steelers as each of those games will obviously be important if they want to make the playoffs. Even a team that has been as bad as the Browns have been over the years the Steelers went 1-1, albeit without Ben Roethlisberger in the loss.
Here are the five non-divisional games that could end up determining the Steelers 2013 season.
Week 1 vs. Tennessee Titans
Last Meeting: 2012 Week 6 at Tennessee, 26-23 Loss
In a year of disappointments, the Steelers lost to the Matthew Hasselbeck-led Titans on a last-second field goal in regulation. The team held a 23-16 lead with about eight minutes left in the fourth quarter only to lose to a team it really should have beaten.
Even if the Steelers lose this particular game to the Titans, it will not mean the season is over in Week 1. I am a firm believer though that it is big for a team to come out of the gate strong, and the Steelers have lost the first game of the season the last two years now.
The Steelers had a very inconsistently disappointing 2012 season, and it would be nice to see them come out strong in 2013.
Week 6 at New York Jets
Last Meeting: 2012 Week 2 vs. New York, 27-10 Win
The Steelers have another early bye week in 2013 and it’s always important to come out the week after it and win.
The team hasn’t lost a game following the bye week since 2007, and with as bad as the Jets should be in 2013, the Steelers better not lose this one either.
There is the added fact that the Steelers play the Ravens after the Jets which could lead the team to look past New York.
As I said in the intro, no team should be taken lightly no matter how bad it is, and any team can be beaten if it has the mindset that it's won before the game has even been played.
Week 9 at New England Patriots
Last Meeting: 2011 Week 8 at Pittsburgh, 25-17 Win
The Steelers enter the second half of the season with a matchup with the New England Patriots on the road. Although Tom Brady has a winning record against the Steelers, Pittsburgh has won two of the last three meetings.
True or not, though the defense is always ranked near the top, there seems to always be a perception that the Steelers can’t beat a high-powered offense.
It will be interesting to see whether the Steelers defense can hold down Tom Brady and whether Ben Roethlisberger can keep the offense rolling.
Ultimately I believe this game will come down to how many points the Steelers offense can put up and if it can hold the ball enough to keep Brady on the bench.
Week 11 vs. Detroit Lions
Last Meeting: 2009 Week 5 at Detroit, 28-20 Win
The last time the Steelers played the Detroit Lions Daunte Culpepper was the starting quarterback and the team had seven sacks in the game.
I point out this particular game because of the fact that the Steelers have two divisional games directly after this one. It would be better for the team to win this game, beat Cleveland in Week 12 and go into the matchup with the Ravens in Week 13 with momentum.
It will also be another chance for the team to go up against an offense that can be explosive with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Calvin Johnson may not be shut out in the game, but I think Ike Taylor should be fine in the matchup and the Steelers should be able to get to Stafford a few times.
Week 16 at Green Bay Packers
Last Meeting: 2010 Super Bowl, 31-25 Loss
I think we all remember the last time the Steelers played the Green Bay Packers and I for one hope we don’t see this type of play from William Gay in 2013.
This will be the final road game for the Steelers in 2013, and it is squeezed between divisional games between the Bengals and Browns.
The Steelers had a very disappointing season in 2012 and they need to continue to beat the top teams in the NFL.
We all assume the Packers are going to be right there at the top of the NFC, and this will be the first chance the Steelers will have to exact a small revenge against Green Bay.