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Steelers’ schedule 2020: An early look

The Steelers schedule was announced shortly after the season ended in late December. While we still do not have dates and times just yet, we do know the opponents for next year. Pittsburgh will of course play two games with their division rivals, along with games against the AFC South and the NFC East. Here is the complete list teams the Steelers will face in 2020:

Schedule:

Home Games

Ravens, Bengals, Browns

Broncos, Texans, Colts, Eagles, and Redskins

Away Games

Ravens, Bengals, Browns

Bills, Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants, and Titans

With these teams in mind, lets take a look at some interesting things surrounding next year’s opponents:

Geography:

The first thing that stands out here is the Steelers do not have a west coast game in 2020.  Given Mike Tomlin’s track record out there, that is a blessing in itself.  In fact, the furthest west the team will travel is for their game with the Dallas Cowboys.  Outside of that game and the game against Jacksonville, the team is practically within driving distance of all their other opponents.  This is certainly one of the more generous schedules the Steelers have had in terms of travel in some time.

Having said that, there are a few games here which could result in a little more travel then it would seem.  The Steelers have long been a proponent of playing a game in Mexico.  Games against the Titans, and Cowboys would seem to be excellent candidates for that.  It may be hard to convince Jerry Jones to give up a home game in his palatial stadium in exchange for a trip to Mexico.  If there is a game in Mexico in the Steelers future, it would most likely be against the Titans.

Any time you have a road game in Jacksonville, there is a very real possibility of having to play in London.  The Jaguars have essentially made London a part of their home schedule at this point.  This would potentially be Pittsburgh’s first venture across the Atlantic.

Rivalry dead:

For the first time in since 2015, the Steelers will not face the New England Patriots during the regular season.  For years this has been the most anticipated game on the schedule. Barring these two teams meeting in the playoffs, we will miss out on one of the best rivalry games in the league.

 

New coaches, fresh meat:

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face four of the five new coaches hired this offseason:

Kevin Stefanski – Cleveland Browns 

Joe Judge – New York Giants

Mike McCarthy – Dallas Cowboys

Ron Rivera – Washington Redskins

Another year, another Cleveland Browns coach. Kevin Stefanski is the latest in a long line of sacrificial lambs the Browns front office throws out there.  Stefanski’ s work as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator is spotty at best.  Expect more of the same in Cleveland next season.

Mike McCarthy and Ron Rivera are seasoned Super Bowl head coaches.  They both should have positive influences on their respective teams.  Joe Judge on the other hand is a relative unknown.  The former Patriots special teams coach has very little experience past being a position coach.

Prime Time games:

The Steelers always have their share of prime time games.  This team remains one of the premier franchises in the NFL, and one the networks love having on their broadcast.  Looking at he 2020 opponents, there is no shortage of exciting matchups that would be perfect for a Sunday, Monday, or Thursday night.

Any game between the Steelers and Ravens is a potential prime time game.  It still ranks as one of the best rivalries in all of football.  Other possible night games include matchups with the Cowboys, Texans, Eagles, Titans, and Bills.  Expect a good chunk of these  to be part of the NFL’s prime time package.

One other thought is the possibility of Pittsburgh being part of a Thanksgiving day slate of games.  Whenever the Dallas Cowboys are a part of your road game schedule, Thanksgiving day is in the mix.  Add on the fact that these are among the biggest draws in the league, and it could very well be turkey and Steelers football next November.

AFC North:

No schedule wrap up could be complete without going over the division rivals.  There will be a new face leading the Cincinnati Bengals going into next season.  The Bengals will almost certainly be drafting LSU superstar quarterback Joe Burrow with the number one overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.  He will add to the already daunting list of quarterbacks in this division. See this post on the state of quarterbacking in the AFC North (Do the Steelers have the worst quarterback situation in the AFC North?  )  The task of facing Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfeild, and now Joe Burrow twice a year for the foreseeable future seems daunting.

The Steelers/Ravens rivalry is showing no signs of slowing anytime soon.  Now that Baltimore has climbed back in to elite status in the AFC, things will continue to be heated between these two franchises.  Pittsburgh’s new and improved defense versus the Ravens’ high powered offense will be must see tv.

If nothing else the Cleveland Browns are entertaining.  If they ever tap into their immense talent, this team could be a problem in this division.  Cincinnati needs more time, but drafting Burrow will be a huge step in the right direction. It will be interesting how he handles the Steelers elite pass rush.

Favorable Schedule:

All in all there is very little to complain about concerning the Steelers schedule heading into 2020.  They will avoid having to play either of this year’s Super Bowl teams, and their nemesis the New England Patriots.  Eight of the thirteen teams on the Steelers schedule were at or below .500 in 2019.  Of those eight teams, only five made the post season.  Plenty can change between now and the beginning of the new NFL season, but the Steelers could not have asked for a better schedule heading into next year.

 

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