The book on the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers still hasn’t been finished yet, but it isn’t too early to look forward to next season. As we await the results of this season, here is the preview for the Pittsburgh Steelers schedule for the 2017 season.
Previewing the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule
Before getting started it should be known that the analysis of the opponents is based on the results of the 2016 season. A lot happens in the off-season and a team can go from championship contender to completely out of the postseason. Just ask both of the teams from the Super Bowl last year. That being said, here is a preview of the 2017 Steelers opponents based on how well they fared in the 2016 season.
The Jaguars finished 3-13, but don’t think that this team will be a pushover in 2017. Jacksonville could potentially have one of the most explosive offenses in the league next year with young stars such as Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee making up one of the best receiving corps in the league to go along with running backs Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon who are both very productive. If Blake Bortles can cut back on turnovers this will be one of the hardest offenses to stop. The Steelers can win this game regardless, but if Bortles improves it could make it a lot tougher.
The Titans barely missed out on the playoffs this season and should be a tougher opponent next season. With an improving defense and stars on the offensive side such as Marcus Mariota, Demarco Murray, and Delanie Walker this team will be a real challenge. They even have a chance to improve on their personnel armed with two first round picks in the upcoming draft. This team will be dangerous in 2017 and could pose a real challenge to the Steelers.
Green Bay Packers
A team led by Aaron Rodgers should never be counted out, no matter what their record is at the time. Remember when the Packers were 4-6 and seemingly out of the playoffs? They ended up winning six straight to make the postseason. This team has the offensive firepower to score at will and the defensive playmakers to stop any offense. This is one of the toughest games of the year and the Steelers better be at the top of their game if they want to win.
With what the Vikings lack on offense, they more than make up for it on defense. Minnesota’s defense was one of the stoutest in the league during the 2016 season and should have many important pieces return. So, barring an injury, they should pick up where they left off on that side of the ball. The Vikings offense might not keep defensive coordinator Keith Butler up at night, but they are still an NFL offense and the Steelers should not sleep on this team. That being said, this is a game the Steelers should be able to win.
New England Patriots
This is another very, very tough game for Pittsburgh. As long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are still a part of the Patriots organization, they will be a challenge. The Steelers and Patriots played this year at Heinz Field and New England ended up winning 27-16, but that was with Landry Jones at quarterback. If Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy for this one and Martavis Bryant comes back from suspension at the same high level the Steelers could take this one.
AFC North Opponents
When it comes to divisional games, throw out all of the records and accolades. When these divisional opponents play each other, no matter who it is, it is usually a dog fight. If the Steelers want to repeat as divisional champions they must win these games.
The Texans had a very stout defense in 2016 with young players like Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney continuing their development nicely contributing a lot to this defense. Oh, and they played much of the season without star defensive end J.J. Watt. If this team can continue to be a force on defense while also fixing its offensive issues they could be one of the best teams in the league next year. If the Steelers offensive line can keep Big Ben upright and open up holes for Le’Veon Bell they should take this one.
Indianapolis chose to move forward with Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano. The Colts have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Andrew Luck and he has some good weapons around him, but they need to improve on the offensive line which seems to be constantly ignored along with the defense. The Colts must improve upon those if they want to keep up with the ever-improving AFC South. The Steelers should take this one if they can contain the Colts young receivers.
The Bears were atrocious last season, and it appears they will be such next season barring a remarkable improvement. They drafted a young, speedy playmaker in Kevin White, but he’s hardly seen the field in his two years. One bright spot on this Bears roster is running back Jordan Howard. Howard can’t run the whole show by himself, though, so the Steelers should win this one.
Most of Detroit’s wins this season were come from behind victories, and quarterback Matthew Stafford was playing at an MVP level until he injured a finger on his throwing hand. If the Lions can improve on the running game their offense would be formidable. With two middle of the pack defenses this game should be a shootout and could come down to which defense can make a stop, making this game hard to predict.
Kansas City Chiefs
This game is the hardest the Steelers have on the schedule. The Chiefs may not have the best offense, but they have one the doesn’t turn the ball over, and they have a defense that likes to take the ball away. To go into Arrowhead and win the Steelers would have to play an almost perfect game and their best game on the season
AFC North Opponents
Like I said earlier, division opponents are always tough. They are even tougher on the road, so the Steelers need to win these games to take the division. The Steelers have a tough schedule next season, but they should have every opportunity to repeat as AFC North champions.