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Steelers Will Be Tested With Most Difficult Schedule in NFL in 2008

Thanks to all who have posted in the diaries and comments section, but I wanted to throw this up as well, along with a few thoughts. Tomorrow morning, cgolden and I should have more. Why all the emphasis on the schedule? Well, it matters. Plain and simple. The 2006 Jets snuck in to the playoffs despite being a very mediocre team, and in some regards, our very own Steelers benefitted by playing a very weak NFC West and AFC East last year. To the games:

  • Guys, we could be a very sound team and win 8 games. That may be hard to swallow if we're playing well and losing a few close games. But that's the reality and as Tomlin says, 'it's a process.' 2008 might be the year where we really grow and endure some hardships while improving, setting up a potential big run in 2009. I hope it doesn't play out that way, but it could.
  • Short weeks to prepare for the Jags and Colts. Yikes.
  • Like last year, we better get out of the gates fast. I wrote last year that we needed to start 4-1 or 5-0 given how the back-end of our schedule looked. This year is not much different. There are certainly some tricky games in our first five contests - at Philly, at Cleveland, at Jacksonville - but starting 3-2 or 4-1 sure would be huge, particularly a win against Cleveland.
  • Weeks 7 through 14 might be one of the toughest two month stretches in all of professional football history. Fortunately we don't have any back-to-back tough road tests, but man oh man do we face some tough teams in that period. Thank God we get the Colts and Bolts at home.
  • Who knows, but my early guess is that there won't be a Wild Card emerging from the AFC North this year. That probably means it's going to come down to Cleveland (who mind you, also has a tough road to hoe) and Pittsburgh. Week 17 for all the marbles? That sure would be delicious.

More tomorrow and throughout the summer on this and our main competitors' schedules.