Worst case schedule scenarios for Steelers in 2024

Steelers fans don't want to see these scheduling decisions when the 2024 NFL schedule drops.
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

We've seen firsthand how poor scheduling decisions can impact teams during the season and even hurt their chances of making the postseason. In 2022, the NFL decided to stick the Pittsburgh Steelers with a brutal slate of games early in the season which included the Bengals, Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Eagles. As a result, the Steelers finished 2-6 before their bye week.

Last year, Pittsburgh was forced to take their bye in Week 6, which left them with a brutally long stretch without a break to close the 2023 season.

So what would be the worst-case scheduling moves the NFL could give the Steelers this year? Here are four things we don't want to see for Pittsburgh when the 2024 NFL schedule drops.

Steelers worst-case schedule scenarios:

Steelers get a Week 5 bye

The only thing worse than a Week 6 bye is a Week 5 bye. In a 17-game regular season, it should be criminal to force an NFL team to take their bye this early. If the Steelers received a Week 5 bye, it means they must go 13 straight games to close out the year without a break.

This stretch gets even more exhausting if they make the playoffs. Unless they earn the lone first-round bye in the AFC, the Steelers would likely have to play 17 games without a single week of rest in order to become Super Bowl champions. Talk about a tall task.

Steelers host Ravens in season-opener

I don't like putting such a pivotal game in the Week 1 slate. We have seen far too many flukey outcomes in the season opener. Obviously, there's a chance this could work in Pittsburgh's advantage if they catch the Ravens off guard, but considering they suffered a brutal loss against the 49ers in Week 1 last year, I don't want to see them wasting their home game against the Ravens in the season-opener.

Steelers play Bengals in Week 18 season finale

The Steelers haven't played a non-divisional game in the season finale since 2009, so it's unlikely we are going to see that this year. More often than not, this finale tends to come against the Browns. The Bengals are one team fans shouldn't want to face in Week 18.

If it comes down to it and the Steelers need a win to get into the playoffs, Joe Burrow has won 3 of his last 4 games against Pittsburgh. His only loss against the Steelers since 2021 came in the 2022 season opener, but this game required a defensive touchdown and overtime for Mike Tomlin's team to get the job done.

Steelers 'cupcake' games come too late

In 2022, we knew Pittsburgh's season was toast when they began the year 2-6 against a brutal slate of games. Even with their strong finish 7-2 finish, it wasn't enough to vault them back into the playoffs because of their poor start.

Because of this, I would love to see the Steelers play a cupcake schedule early in the year and give themselves some breathing room late in the season. If they can jump out to a winning record early by beating up on bad teams like the Broncos, Raiders, Giants, and Commanders, they could have enough momentum and chemistry at that point to make a postseason push. But if they get a difficult slate early, they will have an uphill battle all season.