Pittsburgh Steelers fans already had a head start on planning their agendas for the rest of 2013. We knew the Steelers were going to London Sept. 29 and therefore would have their bye the following week.
Now the dates for the Steelers’ other 15 games are out.
Here’s a look:
|2013 PITTSBURGH STEELERS SCHEDULE|
|Sept. 8||Tennessee||1 p.m.|
|Sept. 16||At Cincinnati||8:40 p.m.|
|Sept. 22||Chicago||8:30 p.m.|
|Sept. 29||At Minnesota (London)||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 13||At New York Jets||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 20||Baltimore||4:25 p.m.|
|Oct. 27||At Oakland||4:05 p.m.|
|Nov. 3||At New England||4:25 p.m.|
|Nov. 10||Buffalo||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 17||Detroit||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 24||At Cleveland||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 28||At Baltimore||8:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 8||Miami||1 p.m.|
|Dec. 15||Cincinnati||8:30 p.m.|
|Dec. 22||At Green Bay||4:25 p.m.|
|Dec. 29||Cleveland||1 p.m.|
The Steelers open the season at home against the Tennessee Titans at 1 p.m., on Sept. 8.
Maybe it’s not an intriguing season opener, but it could be a good omen. The Steelers started the 2011 and 2012 seasons with marquee games, and those seasons didn’t turn out so well.
They opened 2011 at Baltimore and lost. Had they not lost to the Ravens twice, they’d have won the AFC North and avoided going to Denver in the wild-card round of the playoffs.
The Steelers opened 2012 at Denver in Peyton Manning’s Broncos debut. They lost that game and ultimately missed the playoffs.
As defending Super Bowl champions, the Steelers opened the 2006 and 2009 seasons in prime time on Thursday night. They missed the playoffs in both of those seasons despite winning those openers.
On the other hand, when the Steelers start the season with a low-key, non-division game, they tend to have a better year.
In 2010, the Steelers opened against an NFC team for the first time since 1997, beating the Atlanta Falcons at home. They went to the Super Bowl that year.
The Steelers kicked off 2008 with a 38-17 win at home over the Houston Texas. It was a good start to a Super Bowl-winning season.
The 2005 Steelers season, like 2013, began with a home game against Tennessee. They won that game 34-7 and went on to win Super Bowl XL.
The Steelers didn’t reach the Super Bowl in 2004, but they went 15-1 and advanced to the AFC championship game after opening the season with a 24-21 win at home over the Oakland Raiders.
The 2013 Steelers will ease into the season in similar fashion, just a plain, 1 p.m. opener. If the Steelers win, we’ll have reason to feel good about the season. If they lose, well, that’s a different story.
This will be the third time since 2005 the Steelers have met the Titans in the opener. They played in Week 1 in 2005 and 2009. So they’ve been meeting in the opener every four years.
These two teams have played each other at some point in the season every year since 2008. So the Titans and Steelers are familiar with each other not only in season openers but in general.
The other aspect of the Steelers’ schedule that will look familiar to them is the last six weeks of the season.
Pittsburgh plays the Browns and Ravens in back-to-back road games, then finishes with three of the last four at home.
After splitting their games in Cleveland and Baltimore, the Steelers finished the 2012 season by losing three of their last four and missed the playoffs.
This year, the Steelers’ trips to Cleveland and Baltimore will only be four days apart instead of seven. They visit the Browns Nov. 24, one day shy of the first anniversary of their infamous Fumblegate loss in Cleveland. Then they go to Baltimore on Thanksgiving.
Like last year, the Steelers come home from Baltimore to face an AFC team from a warm-weather city. In 2012 it was the San Diego Chargers. In 2013 it will be the Miami Dolphins for a 1 p.m. game.
Here’s where the schedule makers dropped the ball. How can Mike Wallace’s return to Pittsburgh not be in prime time? It’s not like the Steelers’ prime-time engagements were already maxed out. They’re down for four prime-time games, and they’ve played five every year from 2008 to 2011.
Like last year, the final three weeks of the Steelers season will include home games against the Bengals and Browns and a road game against a former Super Bowl opponent. In 2012 it was the Dallas Cowboys. In 2013 it will be the Green Bay Packers.
While the last six weeks of the Steelers schedule will follow a pattern similar to last season, hopefully their record won’t.