The NFL knows how to promote a product, don’t they? Only the NFL can turn the release of a schedule, where only the dates and times are actual news, into a two hour premiere to give fans their football fix.
Hey, if you keep tabs on it like I do, we are all guilty.
Nonetheless, sometimes there are aspects of the schedule which are often overlooked. For instance, everyone looks to see the bye week almost immediately (Week 7 this year for the Pittsburgh Steelers), but what about all the other noteworthy aspects of the schedule?
Welcome to the schedule news and notes.
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Out of the Steelers’ 6 AFC North games, 5 of those 6 games will be played before Week 10. Only the Week 17 game vs. the Bengals, which could be completely meaningless, falls after Week 10. Also, the Steelers will play three straight division games in Week 6, 8 and 9...with Week 7 being the bye week.
As for location, it is always nice to see the Steelers play the Browns early to avoid the crazy weather which can take place there towards the end of the season, and for once the NFL didn’t schedule their yearly trip to Cincinnati on prime time.
Prime Time Games
Speaking of prime time games, the Steelers have 5 night games (1 Thursday Night, 1 Monday Night and 3 Sunday Night), but if you consider those late, and often protected, games prime time contests, there would be 8 total games on prime time. Half of the schedule essentially...talk about being in high demand.
The past two seasons have seen the Steelers play on almost every major holiday during the Fall and Winter seasons. Two years ago the team played on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Last year, the Steelers played again on Christmas Day. I speak on behalf of my entire family when I say I won’t be having to work on any major holidays this year.
The Steelers play the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football this year in Week 10. The game is at Heinz Field, but I always look at the game before and after to see how the NFL handles the travel and quick turn around of a Thursday game. The Steelers play at Baltimore in Week 9 (1:00 p.m. kickoff), and don’t play the following week until Sunday night in Jacksonville. Not too shabby compared to some of the issues there have been in past years.
In 2017 the Steelers traveled the least amount of miles of any other team in the NFL. While I don’t have the official numbers in front of me currently, the team’s furthest trip will be to play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night in Week 14. After the cross country trek, the next longest trip for the black-and-gold will be a Week 12 visit to Mile High to play the Broncos. Other than those two games, the Steelers will only be leaving the Eastern Standard Time Zone once, and that is their Week 16 game to New Orleans. Looks like the Steelers have lucked out again regarding their travel, or lack thereof.
As stated earlier, playing in Cleveland early in the season is always a treat, considering how the weather can turn off the lake in the cold months. But that isn’t the only weather game to keep an eye on. The Week 3 trip to Tampa Bay might concern some, but the contest being played at night should decrease the heat factor for the boys usually forced to wear black in Florida. Playing in Jacksonville late in the season will feel more like a treat, weather-wise, than playing in Pittsburgh, and the trip to Denver will have the players experiencing the impact of altitude on their games. Playing in a dome in Week 16 will also be a welcome break from the elements for the Steelers.
I was really hoping the NFL learned their lesson with Vontaze Burfict. Not with his suspension, but how they can play their cards right regarding Burfict playing the Steelers. With the talented, yet troubled, linebacker missing the first four games of the regular season, it would make sense if the NFL decided to put the Steelers and Bengals against one another in the first quarter of the season to decrease the chances of the chaos which almost always ensues when he is present. Nonetheless, the NFL didn’t do this and scheduled the two rivals to play against one another in Week 6 and Week 17.