The NFL came through on releasing the 2011 regular season schedule, which may be a good sign of things to come. And, with it the Pittsburgh Steelers schedule was among the more important ones, as everyone is looking forward to seeing the two Super Bowl teams level of competition. A measuring stick, if you will.
And, yes, I know that it was released yesterday, but thanks to glorious Ohio weather, my internet and phone went out around the same time that it was released and only came on this morning. Have to love windstorms, at least as long as you’re not Judy Garland anyway.
Enough of my excuses, however, let’s get into the meat of the schedule here. Sink your teeth into this:
Week One (9/11/11) Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
The Steelers last opened a season on the road during the 2007 season. This time they get to play their fiercest rivals on the 10th anniversary of the largest act of domestic terrorism in history. Expect emotions to be running high for both reasons, and expect something very nice to commemorate the tragic losses that the United States suffered on that day.
Week Two (9/18/11): Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers
To put the talent level of the Seahawks in perspective, their representation for the Madden 12 cover was the 12th Man. In other words, the fans are the best part about this team. And, well, that’s very touching and all, but it doesn’t win you football games against one of the perennial champions. Expect the Steelers faithful to be out in abundance, waving Terrible Towels, specifically those from Super Bowl XL, by the thousands.
Week Three (9/25/11): Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts
Prime time baby. And no, we’re not talking about the second best corner back of the 90’s here. Hopefully the Steelers can tune out the pumped in sound effects in Indianapolis while hoping that Peyton Manning continues to show his age. Ike Taylor and Reggie Wayne will be going at it, and hopefully someone will decide to cover tight end Dallas Clark, as it’s been a recurring theme to somehow allow him to get open in the endzone.
Week Four (10/2/11) Pittsburgh Steelers @ Houston Texans
Should the Steelers opt to pick up a first round offensive tackle, he may very well be schooled two weeks in a row, week three against Dwight Freeney, and this week against Mario Williams. Otherwise, expect to see Ben Roethlisberger scrambling like he does so well, and making more plays outside the pocket than he would against less talented pass rushing teams.
Week Five (10/9/11) Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Titans are currently in the middle of a quarterback dilemma, which essentially paints the words ‘fresh’ and ‘meat’ on anyone under center for them against the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially if they opt to go with a rookie or a perennial backup in hopes of cutting their losses and picking up a first round quarterback next year. Hopefully the Steelers can continue their trend of shutting Chris Johnson down and keep him under 100 rushing yards once more.
Week Six (10/16/11) Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Jaguars and the Steelers have some history, primarily images of David Garrard scrambling to set up a playoff win and Rashean Mathis seemingly picking off a pass and taking it to the house every time we play are dancing through my head at the moment. But, I’m sure those are dancing through the team’s heads as well, or at least will be, and should provide a little extra incentive to bring home the win.
Week Seven (10/23/11) Pittsburgh Steelers @ Arizona Cardinals
Another team the Steelers have beaten in a Super Bowl appears. It’s like walking around in tall grass in a Pokemon game for crying out loud. I’m just waiting for a wild Packer to appear. Larry Fitzgerald may be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean anything when you have no one to throw to him. Arizona still hasn’t gotten over the departure of Kurt Warner, not to mention their team looks is full of former Steelers nearing the end of their career.
Week Eight (10/30/11): New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
After the shellacking the Steelers took at the hands of the Patriots last year, a game that I’m still having nightmares about by the way, they will be looking for revenge in terms of a blowout. Doubt it happens, but it’s good to have a dream. Like the Steelers, the Patriots are a perennial champion and always field a good team. Hopefully the defensive backs realize that tight ends aren’t just for blocking anymore and decide to cover last year’s rookie sensation Rob Gronkowski, who burned nickelback William Gay three times for scores.
Yeah, a rookie tight end torched a top defense for three touchdowns. I know.
Week Nine (11/6/11): Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Thrilla In Manilla II. The Rumble In The Tundra. The cliche in the football article. The Steelers get to have the tough part of their divisional schedule out of the way by week nine, which isn’t a bad thing, as long as they take at least one of the games from the Ravens they should have an inside track to winning the division once more. Again, expect a heated game, big hits, loud mouths, questionable flags, etc.
Week Ten (11/13/11): Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals essentially came out shouting to the world that 2009 was indeed a fluke and that they were indeed one hit wonders, and with Carson Palmer wanting out, they’re sitting with the Cardinals in the ‘we’ve got talented receivers, but my grandmother is in the running for the starting QB job’ club. You can’t write it off, because it’s an AFC North game, but c’mon, everyone knows the Bengals are the ugly duckling of the AFC North. Except in this story, the duck doesn’t grow into a beautiful swan, it ends up target practice.
Week Eleven (11/20/11): Bye Week
I’ll probably be wondering if I can get my money back for my fantasy football league by this point. Yahoo tends to frown on that though.
Week Twelve (11/27/11): Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
JaMaal Charles is considered one of the best running backs in the league today, I guess it’s a good thing that Chiefs head coach Todd Haley is apparently the only person in the world that doesn’t realize this. He’s on record as saying that he doesn’t plan on giving Charles more touches this year, despite a ridiculously good average per rush last year. Good news for every team on the Chiefs schedule.
Week Thirteen (12/4/11): Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Essentially the Bengals will be looking to give the Steelers a divisional loss this week, as they’ll more than likely be out of the running for the AFC North proper and the wild card race. A loss could definitely throw a giant cog in the Steelers playoff plans, hopes, and dreams.
Week Fourteen (12/8/11): Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This has trap game written ALL over it. Considering that it’s back to back divisional opponents that literally bank their season on beating the Steelers. Seriously, it’s considered a winning season in Cleveland if they can eek out a win against the Steelers even once a year. Not to mention, the Steelers will have only four days of rest from a game that sure to be taxing both mentally and physically. And I know we all remember that ugly performance against the Browns on Thursday night in 2009.
Week Fifteen (12/19/11): Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Francisco 49ers
Rashard Mendenhall will get to run against/into Patrick Willis. Which, while probably slightly painful, will be a joy to watch for everyone involved. Why? Because as a Steelers fan, I’m assuming that you enjoy tough, strong linebackers with the ability to do it all. Of course, on the flip side, Alex Smith will get to meet the fearsome foursome of this generation, plus Troy Polamalu.
On a related note, 70% of the world is covered by water, and the other 30% is covered by Polamalu.
Week Sixteen (12/24/11) St. Louis Rams @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Maurkice Pouncey will get to confront the man that stole the Offensive Rookie of the Year award away from him last year – Sam Bradford. The Rams are definitely improving, and Stephen Jackson could easily be the best back in the league if he weren’t bogged down on sub-par Rams teams for the first part of his career, but I’ll take the Steelers defense over the Rams offense and vice verse everyday of the week – and twice on Sundays.
Week Seventeen (1/1/12) Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
The Browns will end their season against the Steelers (notice that the Steelers will not end theirs against the Browns). This time the Steelers get to travel to the oh so wonderful city of Cleveland in what’s sure to be typical Ohio weather. Always a fun way to tune up for the playoffs and a great way to keep the guys on the team sharp.
The Browns certainly are improving at a very good rate, and may just contend for the AFC North here in a few years, but they’re not quite there yet.
Not a grueling schedule, but the Steelers will still be playing some stiff competition, including two of the best quarterbacks in the league with lethal receiving corps. Everyone in the country will be able to see this team on prime time a whopping five times.
Be sure and keep a look out for the tentatively named ‘Entirely Too Early To Make Season Predictions Season Predictions’ article that should be coming sometime during the pre-season.