Schedule – 2014 Season
The Steelers will host division rival Cleveland in game one of the 2014 NFL season, a perfect way to get this years campaign rolling. With the release of the upcoming season’s schedule, it would seem to favor the 8-8 Steelers making a rebound from what was a disappointing 2013 ending. The team will face the NFC South as well as the AFC South, and the most amazing thing is they team will travel no further West than Cincinnati, and no further South than Atlanta. The other cozy aspect of the line-up is our home games will include Drew Brees and the Saints, Andy Luck and the Colts, and the Andy Reid lead Chiefs. Tampa Bay will visit Steeltown in Week 4 with new Head Coach Lovie Smith, and the schedule also includes two Monday Night games and a Sunday night match-up against Carolina in Week 3. If there were ever a Schedule that favored the Steelers, this is it. Of course the old adage still applies, this is the NFL and on any given Sunday anyone can beat you, but assuming the team gets their act together and is on their best behavior, this schedule certainly points to our involvement in the Post Season. The concern is still the Defense, with the direction the Offense was heading at the end of 2013 and given the recent acquisitions in free agency, the question mark still hovers over Dick Lebeau’s refurbished squad.
Week 1 – Cleveland Browns:
Pittsburgh will open the season at home against the hapless and highly depleted Browns. Having gone through a complete overhaul and collapse, it’s a safe bet the Brownies will come limping into the opener without a clue. I don’t even know who their Head Coach or Quarterback is at this point.
Week 2 – The Hated Ratbirds:
The Steelers will barely have time to clean the Heinz Field soil from their cleats before they head to Maryland to face the AFC North Chest Pounders. This will be an interesting game indeed as the Ratbirds will be coming off a week one home game against the Bungles, a game I suspect they should be victorious in. The Game will be broadcast on the NFL Network and will serve as good marketing for both the network and the League. This one is a bit hard to predict as it will surely be the usual headbanger, but will no doubt show how prepared Coach Tomlin has his team coming out of training camp and pre-season. A win against the Ratbirds in this Marquee game would be bittersweet as I like our odds when they return to Steeltown in week 9, which is also a Prime Time Showing.
Week 3 – Carolina Panthers:
The Prime Time spotlight continues to shine as the team travels to Carolina to face the Cam Newton lead Panthers and their stellar Defense. This will be a big test, however coming off an extended week I will say the Black & Gold should be prepared, but it will be a dog fight for sure.
Week 4 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Steelers return home in Week 4 to face the Bucs, along with their new Head Coach Lovie Smith. This is a hard game to get a bead on, the Bucs have talent, but the Quarterback position is a bit in flux and it’s hard to determine what type of identity they will have with their new Coach and staff. I’ll give the team a win in this match-up, being at home and already battle tested should play in our favor.
Week 5 – Jacksonville Jaguars:
Game 5 takes the Steelers down to Jacksonville Florida to square up with the listless Jaguars. This is another team in transition with little direction, no leadership, and no determined starting QB. It’s probably safe to pencil in a W on this one.
Week 6 – Cleveland Brown:
It would be unfair to think waltzing into Cleveland in Week 6 will be a cakewalk, they are bound to be better by then and in all fairness, they do have some talent. However for this one I’ll hang my hat on the prowess of Big Ben and his proven record in his home state of Ohio.
Week 7 – Houston Texans:
The first Monday Night game occurs in Week 7 as host to the Mighty Texans. This is actually a game that should cause some concern, if Houston has a functional QB and the other working parts are well oiled, this could be a bit of a testy match-up. However the Prime Time lights will be shining bright on the confluence of Three Rivers, so I’ll give this one to our guys.
Week 8 – Indianapolis Colts:
The Steelers stay home in Week 8 to face former #1 overall pick in 2012, Andy Luck and Indy Colts. Great match-up as I’m an Andrew Luck fan, should be a real hum-dinger and add some mid season excitement to the plate. I could go either way on this one, Luck is a true competitor and a real gamer, will definitely be must see TV.
Week 9 – The Hated Ratbirds:
Week 9 is where the pot grows sweet, in our third consecutive home game we’ll get to feast on the Bullies from B-More in a sexy Sunday Night prime time slug-fest. This is why spanking them and plucking their feathers in Week 2 will be paramount as I have a strong feeling we can own this series. I just hope the local fans are booing their loudest on this night, as always, give them what they deserve, a humiliating and demoralizing loss on National TV.
Week 10 – New York Jets:
By Week 10 the Steelers should be rockin’ & rollin’, at least that is our hopes. Traveling to New York should prove to be as similar a business trip as last years visit, but it will also depend on what shape the Jets team will be in by then. If any problems would arise, they would arise from potential upstart draft picks, as their over the hill veteran crew of Mike Vick, Chris Johnson, and Big Ed Reed, have never been able to beat The Steelers.
Week 11 – Tennessee Titans:
Our second and final Monday Night game will be played in Tennessee against former OC Ken Wisenhunt. Wiz has nothing but love for Steeltown, and Steeltown has nothing but love for Wiz. He did win a Super Bowl for us and has success every where he has coached since. But it’s a sure bet the last minute kick in the butt he got from his old protege in SB 43 has stuck in his craw, this will be a very good game, get your Terrible Towels ready.
Week 12 – Bye:
Week 13 – New Orleans Saints:
Fresh off the bye the Steelers should be plenty rested and ready to get back to work, this will be one of their biggest challenges of the season and is important because the Saints are a play-off caliber team. The knock on Drew Brees is he folds in cold weather outdoor games, and it’s true. It’s a safe bet Steeltown on November 30 will not liken itself to the beaches of Bermuda, but this could be a problematic outing if the Steelers don’t cross their t’s and dot their i’s. Certainly a welcome test at this point in the season.
Week 14 – The Bungles:
If history is any indicator, December is the Steelers best month and they have generally built up enough momentum to start playing their best. What better way to get into the spirit of things than by rolling into the Jungle and quelling any hopes the lowly Bungles may have of feeling good about themselves. I’m going to suspect the Red Rifle and his cast of kittens will have a respectable enough record by then, but this is seriously a game where we need to go in and kick ass. My feelings towards Marv Lewis and his continued pursuit of mediocrity and failure have been well documented here at Steeler Central, (see Week 2 2013 and Wildcard 2014), the fact this imposter has maintained Head Coaching immunity is a disgrace to the profession. On most teams the Quarterback is a direct reflection of the Head Coach, in Cincinnati the apple has not fallen far from the tree.
Week 15 – Atlanta Falcons:
Where’s Hines Ward when you need him? Week 15 will provide a good opportunity to De-Ice Matty.
Week 16 – Kansas City Chiefs:
Andy Reid, the great Offensive Guru and Quarterback developer had his moment in the sun last year. In fact big Andy has had season success throughout his Coaching career, his M-O however is choking in big games, which he did in grand style in last years AFC Divisional Round against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Big Andy has never had much success beating the Steelers, but the Chiefs themselves have been the achilles heel of the Steelers in recent years and they always seem to struggle against them. Expect a stout Chiefs team and I want to hang a victory on this one, but it could go either way.
Week 17 – The Bungles:
Quite possibly this could be a game that determines playoff seating, as much as I hate to credit the Bungles for any accomplishments, their seating and record should be similar to recent years. With that in mind, let’s hope that regardless of whether the Steelers have clinched a playoff birth or not, they attack these imposters with a vengeance and put them in their place, even if the rookies and back-ups play.
After two lackluster 8-8 seasons, the Steelers need to extract head from ass and get back to their dominant ways. Of course that is easier said than done and in all fairness, they have done well for themselves after loosing so many important players and team leaders. Yet and still, the key to the success of the forthcoming season will be the improvement of the Defense. The Steelers must get back to being a bad-ass Defense, and of course the real caveat as is each year is keeping Big Ben healthy. If those two factors are in full effect throughout the season, a 11-5 / 12-4 finish is a very realistic expectation. Certainly with how the new schedule is laid out, it is theirs for the taking.
LET’S GO STEELERS!!