Steelers 2013 Schedule Preview: Third quarter has two tough road games in short time frame

In the third quarter of the season, the Steelers have another tough set of games, including two divisional road games in four days in Weeks 12 and 13.

Week 10: Bills at Steelers

Time: 1 p.m. ET

Date: Sunday, Oct. 13

Place: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Dick LeBeau feasts on rookie quarterbacks like Bills rookie QB E.J. Manuel presumably feasts on anything edible that's in front of him.

Manuel, the Bills' controversial first round pick, may or may not be the starter when Buffalo invades Pittsburgh in Week 11 (Kevin Kolb is the alternative), but the Bills have shown a decent running game in wake of one of the poorest quarterback situations in the league.

Add in defensive playmakers like Jairus Byrd, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams, and the Bills shouldn't be taken lightly. Just ask the 2010 AFC Champions what defensive playmakers can do to more talented teams.

Week 11: Lions at Steelers

Time: 1 p.m. ET

Date: Sunday, Nov. 17

Place: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The rolling disaster that is the Lions organization made the mistake of letting head coach Jim Schwartz play for his job in 2013. After a 2012 season (following the franchise's only playoff appearance in a decade) in which the team completely imploded, Schwartz was surprisingly allowed back.

Rashes of off-the-field suspensions and actions on the field that would make a franchise wish those players weren't in the game, the Lions defense resembled little more than wet tissue paper, while the league's thinnest offensive playbook (See Chapters 1-10, "get Calvin Johnson the ball") resulted in huge individual success, but strained and inconsistent production from anyone else.

All that said, there is still monstrous firepower on the offensive side of the ball, and when a player, like Johnson, simply cannot be taken out of a game, it makes for a dangerous match-up.

Week 12: Steelers at Browns

Time: 1 p.m. ET

Date: Sunday, Nov. 24

Place: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

Preseason proclamations that Cleveland will be a competitive (maybe not yet playoff-bound) team in 2013 will probably be answered by this point in the year. Will first-year coach Rob Chudzinski has the benefit of having a defensive coordinator with success in each position he's had (Steelers secondary coach, Cardinals defensive coordinator), and Norv Turner, who eliminated more football in his a.m. alone time than many will learn in a lifetime.

Still, coaching can only take a team so far, and the Browns are thin on offensive talent. They'll ride running back Trent Richardson as far as he can take them, and that may be enough to mask their woeful deficiency at quarterback.

Week 13: Steelers at Ravens

Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Date: Thursday, Nov. 28

Place: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.

It's never an easy place to play, and this game will likely have playoff implications for both teams. It's rarely pretty between these teams, especially late in the year.

Making it even more interesting is the fact these two physical teams have four days between their Week 12 match-ups before playing on Thanksgiving night. The Steelers have played well in the past in short weeks at home, but laid an egg as recently as last year in Tennessee when playing on the road.

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