Early season schedule means Pittsburgh Steelers can’t afford slow start


The Pittsburgh Steelers lucked out with one of the NFL’s easiest first-half schedules, but their past shows this could be a problem.

Even with the league’s best roster in 2017, Pittsburgh still found ways to struggle early in the season. Despite staying in the win column all but Week 3 and Week 5, the Steelers took time to established a flow last year.

Close games against the Browns, Chiefs and Lions all throughout the first eight weeks wasn’t a clear sign of success for the team or their fans. Then, with second-half wins coming after countless close calls, it was clear that this team wasn’t someone who would take over a game from start to finish.

Confidence in this squad never left, and even with close wins, people around the league knew Pittsburgh wasn’t a team to take lightly. But their 2017 struggles may leave people worried for the upcoming season.

The Steelers walk into the 2018 season with the NFL’s easiest first-half schedule based off opponents’ 2017 win percentage. These first nine weeks include five of their six AFC North matchups.

With wins over the Browns, Ravens and Bengals before Week 10, the Steelers could take a division lead too substation to overcome. Series wins over Cleveland and Baltimore in the first half will most-likely leave them out of the division race.

Cincy will have one more chance in Week 17. In the Steel City with one game before the playoffs, though, they’ll probably be too far out to make this matchup significant.

This all means Pittsburgh cannot afford to start slow. AFC North teams will find ways to win if the Steelers aren’t clicking. Knowing Le’Veon Bell isn’t going to be around until Week 1, this team should be concerned about leaving disadvantages open for teams they shouldn’t have to worry about.

The Steelers will face challenges in the second half of the season. New England, New Orleans, Jacksonville and San Diego all look to be contenders this year. Without a strong start to the season, Pittsburgh could find themselves fighting for a first-round bye towards the end of the year.

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Chances are, Pittsburgh isn’t going to lose much in 2018. Their schedule is highly-favorable and their roster is only getting better. They do need to make sure they start as hot as they finish, though. If they don’t, they could find themselves playing catchup with the rest of the conference.