Steelers Schedule: Ranking the top defenses Pittsburgh will face in 2023

Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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#2. Seattle Seahawks

A Super Bowl XL rematch will take place on the last day of the year. The Seattle Seahawks will host the Steelers in a Week 17 matchup. Fox's New Year's Eve broadcast is a stage for Mike Tomlin's squad. A win will help the Steelers secure a playoff berth, but a loss will jeopardize the season.

Late-season matchups are more enjoyable to watch than games during opening week. By mid-season, coaches have identified the kinks within their system and are working to improve results. I expect Matt Canada to do the same with Pittsburgh's air raid. In 2021, the Steelers ranked 10th in passing offense (75.7) but struggled to put points on the board.

Additions like Darnell Washington and Allen Robinson will give Pickett more options to throw to, but Seattle's secondary will be a tough squad to succeed against. Tyreek Woolen, Jamaal Adams, and Quandre Diggs are known to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. Acquisitions like Devin Bush and Bobby Wagner make Clint Hurtt's defense a well-rounded group.

#1. San Francisco 49ers

DeMeco Ryans laid the foundation for the San Francisco 49ers defense last year. His unit struck fear into opposing quarterbacks throughout the regular season. At the end of the season, the 49ers were tied for first in total interceptions (20) and ranked first in defensive rating (84.1). Stout defensive performances helped Brock Purdy lead Kyle Shanahan's squad to the NFC Conference Championship in his rookie year at quarterback.

Starting the season against the NFL's stingiest defense will be a test for Pittsburgh's sophomore quarterback. In 2022, San Francisco ranked first in points allowed (277). We can expect Wilkes to do whatever it takes to disrupt Pickett's timing and connection with receivers. Fred Warner, Javon Hargrove, and Dre Greenlaw helped establish the fourth-ranked run defense (79.4). It will force Matt Canada to call a diverse game to capture a win at home.

According to Fox Sports, the Steelers are projected to win nine games this season. They will need a complete effort from role players to overcome the best defenses in the NFL this year.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football

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