By The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
For the second season in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers won't play a schedule overloaded with first-place teams.
The Steelers (8-8) finished third in the AFC Central despite having the same record as division runner-up Cincinnati (8-8), and thus will play a third-place schedule in 2007. The AFC's other third-place teams — Buffalo (7-9), Jacksonville (8-8) and Denver (9-7) — are on their schedule.
The Steelers also play every team in the AFC East and the NFC West.
At home, the Steelers will meet San Francisco (7-9), Seattle (9-7), Buffalo, Miami (6-10), Jacksonville and their AFC North opponents, Cincinnati, Cleveland (4-12) and Baltimore (13-3).
On the road, the Steelers oppose Arizona (5-11), St. Louis (8-8), New England (12-4), New York Jets (10-6), Denver and their division opponents.
There are three first-place teams on the schedule: AFC North champion Baltimore, plus AFC East champion New England and AFC West champion Seattle. The only AFC playoff teams they won't meet are Indianapolis (12-4) and San Diego (14-2).
By losing the AFC North title to Cincinnati last season, the Steelers avoided playing a first-place schedule this season even after winning the Super Bowl. Still, they missed the playoffs for the second time in six seasons despite not having to play 2005 division champions New England and Indianapolis.