The 2008-2009 Pittsburgh Steelers had the toughest schedule in the league, this coming year they will be faced with a far less daunting one. They will play teams from the AFC West and the NFC North, two of the weaker divisions in the NFL.
Let’s go week by week and examine each opponent and the Steelers chances against them.
Week One (Thursday, September 10 - 8:30 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans
The Steelers are still stinging from a week 16 throttling at the hands of the Titans, the final score being 31-14. The two teams change venues this year, as the Steelers look to start their season on a winning note as the reigning Super Bowl champions.
The biggest factor in this game will be how well the Pittsburgh offense manages against the talented Titans defense. Even though the Titans lost massive defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, they’re still a top defense in the NFL.
The secondary that has been put together in Tennessee is nothing short of stellar, sans perhaps one cornerback spot.
Not to mention the Steelers are still fired up after Titans running back LenDale White and linebacker Keith Bulluck stomped on the Terrible Towel during last years meeting.
The Pittsburgh defense shouldn’t have too many problems as long as they keep Chris Johnson in check, though admittedly that’s not an easy feat for any team to do.
Week Two (Sunday, September 20 - 4:30 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Chicago Bears
The Bears may or may not have found the answer at quarterback by trading for former Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. He has a deep threat in Devin Hester, though Hester is far better utilized as a return man.
Brian Urlacher seems to lose a step with every play he’s on the field, not showing the glory of the player that he once was. Lance Briggs has taken over as the most dominant linebacker on that team, though Urlacher still gets plenty of attention due to his name.
Once more the Steelers gameplan has got to be getting the offense into a rhythm early in the game, and let the defense take them the rest of the way.
Chalk up another win for the Super Bowl champions.
Week Three (Sunday, September 27 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are coming off of an embarrassing season to say the least, amassing only four wins in 16 games. Pittsburgh completely obliterated the Bengals in two games last year, and look for that to continue.
The Bengals just don’t have the offensive firepower to handle the Steelers dominant defense, nor will their defense be able to win this game for them.
The Steelers will start this season at 3-0.
Week Four (Sunday , October 4 - 8:20 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers
The Steelers beat the Chargers twice last season, the first time November 11th with the final score of 11-10 in a game that caused Vegas to virtually implode. The second win came in the divisional round of the playoffs, with the Chargers falling 35-24 in favor of the future Super Bowl champion Steelers.
This year, San Diego gets linebacker Shawne Merriman back on it’s defense. He may prove to be the x-factor in this year’s meeting of the teams. If Merriman can keep constant pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and force him to throw into the athletic Chargers secondary it could spell disaster for the champions.
The Chargers will get their revenge, but just barely by edging the Steelers out.
Week Five (Sunday, October 11 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Detroit Lions
0-16. That was the Lions record for last year. They’ve hopefully found a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, but that’s at least a year away from coming to fruition.
The Steelers will take control of this game early and coast to the easy win.
Week Six (Sunday, October 18 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
The Browns and Steelers have the best rivalry in the NFL in terms of parity. Though, the Steelers have dominated for the last decade.
The Browns have talent, that’s for sure. It’s just a matter of getting that talent to coexist without stumbling through the season that’s the problem. The biggest factor for Cleveland this year will be the quarterback position. Every report that’s gone out lately has said that Brady Quinn will be the opening day starter.
The Steelers will continue to own the series, beating the Browns at Heinz field with relative ease.
Week Seven (Sunday, October 25 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Will the Vikings bring Brett Favre into the equation? Or will Tarvaris Jackson be the starter? Either way you’ve got to believe that the Vikings will live and die with the running game led by the phenomenon that is Adrian Peterson.
If the Steelers can stop the Vikings running game, they will win the game. Though, all of their offensive strategy will have to be primarily focused on the passing game, as the Vikings had the first ranked defense against the run in 2008.
Chalk up yet another win for the Steelers.
A bye week in the middle of the season gives the Steelers a great advantage over some teams. It allows them to get healthy, as chances are good that the defense will be worn down from attempting to stop Peterson in week seven.
Week Nine (Monday, November 9 - 8:30 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos allowed the Jay Cutler situation to get out of hand and ended up losing a Pro Bowl quarterback in the process.
The Broncos are stockpiling running backs, leading us all to believe that they’re going to focus on a running attack and simply take what they can get through the air.
I can’t see them giving the Steelers too much of a problem however, as the Pittsburgh defense is sure to be a top one in the league.
Week Ten (Sunday, November 15 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Once more, the Steelers will beat an AFC North opponent by a large margin. Carson Palmer or no Carson Palmer, the Bengals simply cannot hang with the Steelers in any facet of the game.
Week Eleven (Sunday, November 22 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs offense was nothing short of pathetic last year, with the lone highlight being the number 16 ranking as far as rushing offense goes. Even that, however, is middle of the road.
With a dismal offense goes up against a stellar defense, the results aren’t usually very pretty. The Chiefs will get dominated by the Pittsburgh defense, and barring any sort of Bernard Pollard hit on Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers will continue their domination of an easy schedule on paper.
Week Twelve (Sunday, November 29 - 8:30 PM)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
This is the game that everyone has been waiting to see since the 2008 AFC Championship game. The Steelers travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on AFC North rivals the Baltimore Ravens.
Each game they played last year, the Steelers were victorious. But, alas, nothing gold can stay after all.
This is more than likely going to be a low scoring affair, full of hard hitting defensive football. It’s this game that epitomizes what both teams are all about. Hit them before they hit you.
The Ravens will take this game at home, and hand the Steelers just their second loss of the season.
Week Thirteen (Sunday, December 10 - 8:20 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders
The defending champions will have a field day with JaMarcus Russell. The main focus will be to pressure him into making mistakes, all while keeping an eye on two talented running backs in Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden.
If the Steelers stop the run, then they will emerge victorious.
Week Fourteen (Thursday, December 10 - 8:20 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns
The Browns are sure to have found a rhythm by this point in the season, and will more than likely give the Steelers a run for their money, even if it’s solely for pride. The Browns will more than likely be out of the playoff hunt by now and simply playing to prove that they have mental toughness.
If the Browns are going to beat the Steelers this year, this will be the game. It will take a lot of things to get it done, they’ll have to play near perfect football, limit mistakes, hope that Jupiter and it’s moons are in the seventh house of Pluto and pray in their own special way.
Week Fifteen (Sunday, December 20 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers defense was absolutely decimated by injuries in 2008, that more than likely will not be the case in 2009. They added defensive tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Brian Cushing via the draft and both will likely step in and make an immediate impact.
The Steelers will have to slow down Brett Favre’s protégé Aaron Rodgers, who had a very good season last year in a losing effort on his team’s behalf. He’s only been a starter for a year, but he’s been waiting in the wings before a sure Hall Of Famer and knows how to make all of the throws asked of him. But, more importantly, Rodgers knows how to read a defense.
If the Steelers can come up with a creative defensive front, they’ll win the game, if not, they’ll once more have to rely on take-a-ways and Ben Roethlisberger leading a touchdown drive or two.
Week Sixteen (Sunday, December 27 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
It’s the Ravens turn to come to Pittsburgh in the rematch of the century.
Pittsburgh’s going to be angry and ready for revenge from their loss earlier in the season to Baltimore. Another hard fought, close, defensive game will deem the Steelers the winners and this game will also more than likely decide the winner of the AFC North division.
Week Seventeen (Sunday, January 3 - 1:00 PM.)
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins
The Steelers starters will likely only play a quarter or two in this season ending game.
The Dolphins, hopefully, won’t be relying on the Wildcat at this point, as NFL teams are very quick to pick up on that after a game of another team using it. The speed and reaction time of NFL defenses is simply too quick for it to be an effective offense for very long.
Depending on how the AFC East shapes up, the Dolphins will either be competing for a wildcard or the division title outright, and that might affect the personnel they use.
The Steelers starting players will get them to a lead in the first quarter and the second string players will grind it out and end up with a season ending win.
The 2009-2010 Pittsburgh Steelers will be greatly aided by an easy schedule, but that’s not to take anything away from the talent amassed on the team.
The AFC North is likely going to be a tight race between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens once again, with the final meeting between the two in week 16 being the deciding factor.
With the same determination that led them to the Super Bowl last year, along with a hunger and sense of heart that only champions have, the Steelers will find themselves on a fast track to the Super Bowl, being rewarded for their hard work with a first round bye in the playoffs.
Final Record: 14-2