As the 2020 NFL season is set in motion, we scratch a bit of the surface of the Steelers history with their non-divisional opponents.
Three illustrious owners, six-time crowned champions, and 18 pinnacled athletes (soon-to-be 20), the Pittsburgh Steelers have a history nearing a century’s worth that is unparalleled from most other organizations. Established in 1933, the treasured moments since then could create novels and may still not say enough.
Recouping for another roundabout with the NFC East and AFC South as well as matchups against the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills, 2020 is a good chance for redemptive success. Away from results and projections, each team previously listed has that moment that could contribute to Pittsburgh’s NFL story.
2020 NFC East opponents
How does one division constantly receive primetime games to only give us spectators a constant cycle of boring, “late-game, 10-13 drama”? The NFC East, home to the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys. The Steelers went 2-2 the last time they matched up against the east in 2016, they have a rich history among each other.
As for the Steelers, Giants, Redskins, and Eagles, they would be 4 of the seven teams still active in the NFL today that were hosting football games in their present select cities, back in the 1920s and 1930s. A little side note, the Redskins were also home to Boston in the early beginnings of the sport (the irony), while Washington’s nickname used to be the Senators (this is way better).
Sadly, history fares with the NFC East across the board against the Steelers, as each of the four teams have an all-time winning record, including regular and postseason games.
All-Time Records vs. NFC East
30-44 vs. Giants
28-48 vs. Eagles
33-42-3 vs. Redskins
However, when all things mattered, the Steelers have been triumphant in their Super Bowl NFC East matchups, going 2-1 against the Cowboys in some of the most star-studded games to date.
Both being two of the four teams to appear in the Super Bowl at least eight times, they have also respectfully dominated their conferences over time, with Pittsburgh’s prowess being a bit more recent as well, of course. Aside from these significant exhibitions, much hasn’t occurred with the NFC East outside of the regular season, but history will etch a new stone come the 2020 season.
The first time we will have ever seen these two teams open their NFL season against each other in the modern era, the Steelers are scheduled to take on the Giants week one as they ride a current two-game winning streak.
In 2016, the trio of QB Ben Roethlisberger and former Pittsburgh teammates RB Le’ Veon Bell & TE Ladarius Green would wreak havoc on the G-Men’s defense, as they would lead a 24-14 victory. A stifling effort by the Black and Gold as they controlled the lead for the whole game, was the defense foreshadowing to QB Daniel Jones as they held former Giants QB Eli Manning to under 200 yards passing on 39 attempts with two interceptions?
2020 AFC South Opponents
As stated before, the Steelers will once again take up against the AFC South, as well as the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills too.
Dominance may not even be the word that could describe Pittsburgh’s success against the AFC South, especially during the tenure of Roethlisberger. They are a collective 23-12 versus AFC South opponents since 2004, with the Jacksonville Jaguars being the lone team to find constant success in that span with a 6-5 record. No matter what sport, teams always seem to have that one or two adversaries that just have their number to whatever degree, and the Jags are one of those for the Steelers, who are also 2-0 in their playoff matchups.
That’s without context, as a lot can be said why they have fallen short in the postseason against Jacksonville, especially what took place in 2018. However, another team that has similarly given Pittsburgh that sort of trouble is the Denver Broncos. 3-6 since 2004, the Steelers will look to redeem themselves in the upcoming season.
Currently, on a two-game losing streak against the Broncos, including their 2016 AFC divisional playoff game, they should be favored in their Week 2 matchup. Denver did well in addressing offensive needs for their young quarterback, Drew Lock, and now have a starting skill group with deadly potential. Plus adding veterans DE Jurrell Casey and CB AJ Bouye to the 13th most efficient defense is never a bad thing, but the Steelers should be more than equipped on both sides of the ball to deal with the youth of the Broncos. That is, of course, the curse of playing down to their competition doesn’t inhibit them for yet another season.
And that projection may remain constant when the Steelers take on the Buffalo Bills, mainly because of the inefficiencies of QB Josh Allen. The most recent game between any of the opponents that have been listed, the horror of the four interceptions thrown by QB Devlin Hodges last year in week 15, is all you need to know in the 10-17 loss to the Bills.
Still, undefeated against the Bills whenever Roethlisberger is the starter, he and Pittsburgh will have a readily chance on primetime, Sunday night football in week 14, as he looks to advance his win streak to six games in his career.