During July, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be analyzing the schedules of every team in the NFL and ranking each game in order of difficulty (with one being the most difficult). This series will be split up into the eight most difficult games (ranked 1-8) and the eight easiest games (ranked 9-16) for each team. In this article, the Pittsburgh Steelers easiest games are the focus.
Pittsburgh Steelers Easiest Games in 2016
16. Week 17 vs. Cleveland Browns
The Steelers typically end their season with a matchup against the Browns, and the Steelers usually head into the playoffs with a win. Since 2010, the Steelers and Browns have met in Week 17 five times. The Steelers have not lost a game and have outscored the Browns 126-46 in those five games.
15.Week 11 at Cleveland Browns
Sorry Browns fans, but the Steelers own you. Since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted, the Browns are 3-21 against the Steelers. One of the wins came with Roethlisberger out due to injury as well. The Browns have won all three at home, and therefore are only 3-9 in their last twelve at home to Pittsburgh. Still, most Steelers fans enter the season knowing they have two division wins on the table.
14. Week 5 vs. New York Jets
The Jets had a winning record last year, and therefore could be looked at as a tougher opponent in 2016. However, it is just too tough to say any team will be hard to beat at home when they do not even have a starting quarterback yet. There is a good chance the Steelers get to see Geno Smith rather early into the season. If Smith is the starter, it should be a long day involving plenty of sacks.
If Ryan Fitzpatrick is to sign, the question becomes how ready is he? He will not have been back with the team for very long, and no one can guess what kind of shape he is in. The Jets will be unlikely to open up the playbook for whoever is in at quarterback.
The Steelers then have the offensive power to hurt the Jets defense. Darrelle Revis struggles with few receivers, but would surely have his hands full with Antonio Brown. While the Jets defensive line is great, the Steelers counter with one of the best offensive lines in the league. It will be a very tough early road trip for Gang Green.
13. Week 6 at Miami Dolphins
A road trip to Miami can always leave some caution. It is an easy place to get distracted. Still, the Steelers should be able to take care of business. While the Jets can look for Revis to stop Antonio Brown, who is going to even try to stop him in Miami?
Brown is a native of Miami and has yet to play in his former hometown. While his single game career highs of 17 catches, 284 yards and two touchdowns are ridiculous and will be tough to catch, do not underestimate what Brown can do in Miami for this Week 6 matchup.
12. Week 16 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Anytime the Steelers and Ravens meet, it should be looked at as a much tougher game. Heck, the Ravens have won three straight in the rivalry. That includes last year, where the 6-10 Ravens swept the playoff bound Steelers.
Still, this Ravens team does not look good on paper. Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs are expected to return from injury, but those are two major lower leg injuries that do not always result in the player being as good as new. Additionally, the Ravens have questions at almost every position. There is a case to be made that the Ravens will be back in the top ten of the draft next year.
The Steelers lost their home game last year to the Ravens with Michael Vick at the quarterback position. It was one of the poorest quarterbacked games in a long time. With revenge on the mind, and hopefully a healthy Roethlisberger, the Steelers should at the very least split with the Ravens this season.
11. Week 14 at Buffalo Bills
The fact that this game is on the road makes it a bit tougher. Add in that it is Buffalo in December, and the Bills should feel good about their home field advantage. Unfortunately though, the Steelers are not a team to be affected by snow.
The Steelers invented smash mouth football. Running the ball and winning with defense has been a Steeler tradition since the 1970’s. This is a different Steelers team that typically wins with offense, but they still have a similar mentality and can beat the Bills on the ground.
When it comes to smashing the ball between the guards, the Steelers still have the offensive line and the running back to control the ball and win the game. The Bills will be relying on LeSean McCoy to prove that he is less finesse and a little more power than last year. At the end of the day, the Steelers should be favored on the road.
10. Week 3 at Philadelphia Eagles
The Steelers are fortunate enough to have four of their easiest games come on the road. Some may even see the matchup between the Eagles and the Steelers as an easier one than listed at this spot.
Still, it is an in-state rivalry, and the Steelers have not won in Philadelphia since 1965. It is not like they play every year, but that is eight straight wins for the Birds. The Eagles also will bring in a team that is a bit underrated. Their defensive line should be really good, and they still have a decent core of weapons if Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz can improve their game.
The Steelers will be coming off of a home game to the rival Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2, and heading to the road in the next week could prove tougher than some think.
9. Week 4 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will be a tough out wherever they are this year. Last year, before being ousted by the Patriots in the playoffs, the Chiefs put up 11 straight wins. This all came without Jamaal Charles, and the last couple wins came without Justin Houston. Unfortunately for Kansas City, Houston will probably be out for this Week 4 matchup. The Chiefs still have a great defense, but without Houston, Ben Roethlisberger should have enough time to hang in the pocket and win an early season home game.
Check out the Steelers most difficult games.