The Pittsburgh Steelers face some tough opponents down the stretch. Do they have the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL this season?
We are getting down to the home stretch of the 2021 season, and with so many teams jousting for positioning, how the next seven weeks play out will shape the playoff bracket. While some potential playoff teams like the Titans and Packers have a cakewalk the rest of the way, the Pittsburgh Steelers might just have the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL.
Recently, ESPN’s Mike Clay broke down the remaining games for each team in the league and ranked their schedules from easiest to hardest. He believes Pittsburgh has the third-toughest schedule the rest of the way:
Looking at the opponents that each of these teams must face down the stretch, I could make a strong case as to why the Steelers perhaps have the hardest games left on their calendar this year.
Do Steelers have the hardest remaining schedule?
Looking at Clay’s rankings, it’s hard to understand how he determined that the Carolina Panthers have the toughest remaining schedule. While they do have four road games in their final six contest, the Panthers get to play Miami, Atlanta, and New Orleans in addition to having a late-season bye week to break up their schedule.
I actually disagree with Clay’s rankings a bit here. I would argue that both the Steelers and the Rams have tougher remaining schedules than the Panthers. But even the Los Angeles Rams have two home games down the stretch against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks.
Because of this, I would make a case that the Steelers have the single hardest remaining schedule in football right now. This week, the team will travel to Cincinnati to face a quality Bengals team (6-4 record) before facing the Ravens (7-3), Vikings (5-5), Titans (8-3), Chiefs (7-4), Browns (6-5), and Ravens once more.
As of now, Pittsburgh doesn’t face a team with a losing record the rest of the way, and their final seven opponents have a combined record of 46-27 (counting Baltimore twice). According to WynnBET, the Steelers have the lowest odds of winning the AFC North this year at +1100. Even the Cleveland Browns are significantly higher at +450.
Cracking the playoffs in a crowded AFC this year won’t be easy. But if the Steelers pass the late-season test and sneak into the tournament, their difficult remaining schedule should have them well-prepared to make a run at the Super Bowl.