With the release of the NFL schedule on Tuesday night, Steelers fans got to see in black and white what many of us already realized; it’s going to be a tough road back to the playoffs for the Steelers in 2015.
If you haven’t seen the schedule yet, or even if you have, grab the Steel City Blitz schedule desktop wallpaper to here to keep yourself informed all season long.
It’s been well publicized at this point that the Steelers hold the toughest strength of schedule in the league based on last year’s results. Keep in mind though, the Bengals sit at the 2nd toughest, and the Ravens at 11th.
Nobody in the AFC North is going to have an easy road this season. While I think the teams are better, I think that the north could look much like the NFC South did in 2014. Maybe 8-8 doesn’t win the division, but I think there’s a very good chance 9-6 does.
One thing I’m fairly confident in saying, is that the wildcard will not come out of the Steelers’ division. That means the one way to make the postseason is to win the division again.
For that reason, division matchups become huge. Not that they aren’t always important, but in a season where wins may be hard to come by for Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore it’s even bigger.
If 9 wins gets you in the playoffs, you could be almost there just by going 6-0 within the division… Easier said than done.
On the flip side of that, while I hate to talk in absolutes so early on; with the Ravens getting the Jaguars and Dolphins where the Steelers getting the Patriots and Colts, the Steelers almost have to at least split with their rivals. Getting swept by Baltimore would put them in a massive hole at getting to the post-season.
While matchups this season with teams like the Seahawks and Cardinals will get lots of attention, in the grand scheme they don’t mean much.
The (potentially) good news is that if the Steelers survive the brutal stretch they have in the regular season, they’ll be ready to go in January. No team they’d see in the post-season would feel too big after playing essentially every contender in the league during the regular season.