The Steelers have wrapped up the AFC North division title and clinched a first round bye in the 2017 playoffs. The possibility of earning home field advantage still exists if the Steelers beat the Browns and the Patriots somehow lose to the Jets. With all four AFC division titles decided, we also now know the Steelers 2018 slate of opponents. The full NFL schedule will likely be released in April of 2018.
The NFL schedule works on a rotating matrix. Every team plays home and away games against their three division opponents every year. They also face all four teams from one other division within the conference (on a three-year rotation) and all four teams from one division in the opposite conference (on a four-year rotation). The final two games of the schedule consist of opponents that finished in the same spot in the divisional standings in the two other divisions within the conference. Home games and away games rotate each time through the cycle.
For 2018, the intra-conference games will feature the AFC North against the AFC West and AFC East against the AFC South. This last occurred in 2015 when the Steelers went 3-1 against the West with their only loss coming in a game Landry Jones started in Kansas City. In 2015, the Steelers played in San Diego and Kansas City and hosted Oakland and Denver at Heinz Field. The rotation will continue in 2017 as the Steelers will travel to Denver and (probably) Oakland. The Steelers will face the Raiders on the road, but their stadium situation for 2018 is still a bit up in the air after the announcement last year of their planned move to Las Vegas. Additionally, the Steelers are the most popular team in Mexico and the Raiders have played a “home” game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City the last two years, so this could have the potential for an international series game. The Steelers will host the Chiefs and Chargers at Heinz Field in 2018.
The 2018 inter-conference slate features the AFC North against the NFC South, the AFC East against the NFC North, the AFC South against the NFC East, and the AFC West against the NFC West. The last time the Steelers faced the NFC South opponents was in 2014. They played at Carolina and Atlanta and hosted the Buccaneers and Saints (both of whom won at Heinz Field). Therefore, the Steelers will host the Panthers and Falcons at Heinz Field in 2018 and travel to Tampa Bay and New Orleans. With the trips to Kansas City, Oakland and New Orleans, the Steelers will have three games outside of the Eastern Time Zone (assuming no other games are moved to an international site).
For the final two games of the schedule, the Steelers will face their equivalent-placed teams from the AFC East and AFC South. With the Titans loss this past weekend, Jacksonville clinched the AFC South title. The Patriots have already wrapped up the AFC East last week. In 2015, when the Steelers last faced the whole AFC West, they hosted Indianapolis and started the season with a game in New England (the infamous headset game). This will also rotate in 2018 so their AFC East opponent (New England) will come to Heinz Field and the Steelers will face their AFC South opponent (Jacksonville) on the road.
Here is a quick reference chart of the Steelers 2018 home and road opponents:
Steelers 2018 Opponents