Knowing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ recent history, It’s hard not to categorize this as a must-win for Pittsburgh (0-1), which hosts Cleveland (1-0) on Monday night at Acrisure Stadium. A loss would mean the Steelers begin the season 0-2, with both losses coming at home. This just can’t happen again if this is a team that is going to challenge for a playoff berth.
Early-season home losses have proven to be this organization’s downfall the past few seasons. In fact, the Steelers have lost their first two home games each of the last two campaigns and with the exception of the 2020 season (11-0 start), they are 1-7 in the first two home games since 2018.
Last year, the Steelers lost winnable home games to New England and the New York Jets on way to a 1-4 start. Pittsburgh missed making the playoffs by one victory.
In 2021, Pittsburgh lost to Las Vegas and Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks at home in September and started the season 1-3. That team made the playoffs thanks to a near-miracle finish, but winning just one of those September home games would have been the difference between having to play a wild card game in Kansas City and hosting a divisional game as the AFC North Champions.
In addition, a Cleveland victory Monday night would give the Browns their first 2-0 start since returning to the NFL in 1999, snap a 20-year regular-season losing streak in Pittsburgh, and send the Steelers to their first Monday Night Football loss at home in 32 years.
So, it’s time for Mike Tomlin and company to circle the wagons. We can’t have the Browns accomplishing those feats and celebrating on the Acrisure Stadium turf afterward. And more importantly, the Steelers have to turn the page after last week’s disappointment and get this season back on track.
Thus, here are five reasons why I believe the Steelers will come away with a hard-fought 20-17 victory over Cleveland on Monday Night Football.