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Analyzing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2018 regular season schedule

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BTSC breaks down the 2018 Steelers’ schedule as training camp officially gets under way.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Anticipation is at a fever pitch for the 2018 Steelers’ season. If you're like me, you can't wait for the schedule to come out every April and analyze the matchups. In that spirit, BTSC presents each upcoming contest during the new season and predicts the victor. To me, a repeat of last year’s 13-3 might be a tad optimistic, but there's a very heavy sentiment that this could be the year it all finally comes together and destiny is fulfilled.

Let's take a look at the projections.

Week 1

At Cleveland Browns (0-16)

Sunday 9/9/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Jeff Janis, TE Darren Fells, OT Chris Hubbard, DE Chris Smith, LB Mychal Kendricks, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Terrance Mitchell, S Damarious Randall, QB Baker Mayfield, CB Denzel Ward, RB Nick Chubb

Significant Departures:

QB DeShone Kizer, QB Cody Kessler, RB Isaiah Crowell, TE Randall Telfer, OT Joe Thomas, DT Danny Shelton, LB Tank Carder, CB Jason McCourty, CB Jamar Taylor.

The Browns can't be horrific forever and they seem to be serious about rising from the muck by upgrading their offense with Taylor (for now) and Mayfield (later) behind center. Adding Hyde and Landry on offense will bolster their point production, and with Myles Garrett leading the defense, this team will win some games in 2018. Garrett has already stoked the fires by shredding a picture of a Ben Roethlisberger on the Internet. The Dawg Pound will be rocking that day and an upset seems feasible. In fact, it seems like it might be one waiting to happen. Boy, I hope I’m wrong.

Prediction: Browns

Week 2

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

Sunday 9/16/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Chad Henne, WR Sammy Watkins, NT Xavier Williams, LB Anthony Hitchens, CB David Amerson, CB Kendall Fuller, S Robert Golden, DE Breeland Speaks, NT Derrick Nnadi, LB Dorian O’Daniel, S Armani Watts

Significant Departures:

QB Alex Smith, WR Albert Wilson, G Zach Fulton, NT Bennie Logan, OLB Tamba Hali, OLB Dee Ford, ILB Derrick Johnson, CB Marcus Peters, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Phillip Gaines, S Ron Parker, S Steven Terrell.

The Chiefs are a playoff team and definitely have weapons in Sammy Watkins, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill. They could stretch the Steelers’ Defense — that is, if Pat Mahomes is ready. However, the Chiefs have lost six of seven against the Steelers and have surrendered tons of firepower on defense.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 3

At Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

Monday 9/24/2018 8:15 PM EDT (ESPN)

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Key Additions:

C Ryan Jensen, DE Vinny Curry, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Beau Allen, K Chandler Catanzaro, NT Vita Vea, RB Ronald Jones, CB M.J. Stewart, CB Carlton Davis, S Jordan Whitehead

Significant Departures:

RB Doug Martin, RB Charles Sims, DE Robert Ayers, DT Chris Baker, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Robert McClain.

Even if Jameis Winston wasn’t suspended, the Steelers are going to keep it together on MNF. Le’Veon Bell goes off and the defense finds a way to not let Mike Evans completely break them. Steelers roll in Prime Time.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 4

Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

Sunday 9/30/2018 8:20 PM EDT (CBS)

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Robert Griffin, WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown, WR Willie Snead, TE Hayden Hurst, QB Lamar Jackson, OT Orlando Brown, CB Anthony Averett, LB Kenny Young, WR Jaleel Scott

Significant Departures:

RB Danny Woodhead, WR Mike Wallace, WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Michael Campanaro, TE Ben Watson, TE Crockett Gillmore, OT Austin Howard, C Ryan Jensen, S Lardarius Webb.

Joe Flacco is regressing, but he’s going to have upgraded weapons in Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and Hayden Hurst. Furthermore, for some strange reason, Flacco always seems to shine against the Steelers. But Pittsburgh will still prevail.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 5

Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

Sunday 10/7/2018 1:00 PM EDT (FOX)

Atlanta Falcons v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Key Additions:

TE Logan Paulsen, G Brandon Fusco, DT Terrell McClain, WR Calvin Ridley, CB Isaiah Oliver, DT Deadrin Senat, RB Ito Smith

Significant Departures:

WR Taylor Gabriel, WR Andre Roberts, TE Levine Toilolo, DE Adrian Clayborn, DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, NT Dontari Poe, NT Ahtyba Rubin

Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman have definite noses for the end zone. If Matt Ryan is “on” and the Steelers’ secondary doesn’t improve from last year, it could be a long day for the home team.

Prediction: Falcons

Week 6

At Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)

Sunday 10/14/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Key Additions:

OT Cordy Glenn, DT Chris Baker, ILB Preston Brown, C Billy Price, S Jessie Bates, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Malik Jefferson

Significant Departures:

QB A.J. McCarron, RB Jeremy Hill, OT Andre Smith, C Russell Bodine, ILB Kevin Minter, CB Pacman Jones.

Cincinnati is dangerous and probably hell-bent on taking somebody out (JuJu, I’m talking about you). The Steelers are a better team and should win, but the key is to leave the Queen City intact. That’s the part I’m doubtful about.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 7

Bye

Much needed rest after playing two of last three against divisional foes.

Week 8

Cleveland Browns (0-16)

Sunday 10/28/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Jeff Janis, TE Darren Fells, OT Chris Hubbard, DE Chris Smith, LB Mychal Kendricks, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Terrance Mitchell, S Damarious Randall, QB Baker Mayfield, CB Denzel Ward, RB Nick Chubb

Significant Departures:

QB DeShone Kizer, QB Cody Kessler, RB Isaiah Crowell, TE Randall Telfer, OT Joe Thomas, DT Danny Shelton, LB Tank Carder, CB Jason McCourty, CB Jamar Taylor.

Cleveland might steal one in 2018, but they aren’t sweeping. Pittsburgh might see Baker Mayfield for the first time in this contest and will befuddle the top pick.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 9

At Baltimore (9-7)

Sunday 11/4/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Robert Griffin, WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown, WR Willie Snead, TE Hayden Hurst, QB Lamar Jackson, OT Orlando Brown, CB Anthony Averett, LB Kenny Young, WR Jaleel Scott

Significant Departures:

RB Danny Woodhead, WR Mike Wallace, WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Michael Campanaro, TE Ben Watson, TE Crockett Gillmore, OT Austin Howard, C Ryan Jensen, S Lardarius Webb.

Prediction: Steelers

Charm City is a tough place to play, but the Steelers could be rolling at this point and should defeat the lesser team.

Week 10

CarolinaPanthers (11-5)

Thursday 11/8/2018 8:20 PM EDT (FOX)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Key Additions:

RB C.J. Anderson, WR Torrey Smith, WR Jarius Wright, OT Jeremiah Sirles, NT Dontari Poe, CB Ross Cockrell, S Da’Norris Searcy,WR D.J. Moore, CB Donte Jackson

Significant Departures:

QB Derek Anderson, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Charles Johnson, WR Russell Shepard, TE Ed Dickson, G Andrew Norwell, DE Charles Johnson, DT Star Lotulelei, CB Daryl Worley, S Kurt Coleman, S Jairus Byrd.

The Panthers have only defeated Pittsburgh once when it counted and that was in their inaugural meeting in 1996. Cam Newton will pose a tough test, but the Steelers will be gelling in their Color Rush and prevailIng under the Thursday Night lights.

Projection: Steelers

Week 11

At Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

Sunday 11/18/2018 8:20 PM EDT (NBC)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Cody Kessler, WR Donte Moncrief, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Niles Paul, G Andrew Norwell, CB D.J. Hayden, S Cody Davis, S Don Carey, DT Taven Bryan, WR D.J. Chark, S Ronnie Harrison, OT Will Richardson

Significant Departures:

QB Chad Henne, RB Chris Ivory, WR Allen Robinson, WR Allen Hurns, TE Marcedes Lewis, G Patrick Omameh, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Aaron Colvin, P Brad Nortman.

This is the game when the Steelers need to establish their true identity. They proved that they could put points on “Sacksonville” in the playoff loss. But their defense needs to shut down Leonard Fournette and prove they can stop the Jags’ offense from putting up points at will. This needs to be a signature victory.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 12

At Denver Broncos (5-11)

Sunday 11/25/2018 4:25 PM EDT (CBS)

Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Case Keenum, OT Jared Veldheer, DT Clinton McDonald, ILB Su’a Cravens, CB Tramaine Brock, P Marquette King, DE Bradley Chubb, WR Courtland Sutton, RB Royce Freeman, LB Josey Jewell, WR DaeSean Hamilton

Significant Departures:

QB Trevor Siemian, RB C.J. Anderson, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Cody Latimer, TE Virgil Green, G Allen Barbre, CB Aqib Talib.

The Denver Broncos always enjoy an advantage at home and the Mile High air may induce some listlessness, but the Steelers need to win on the road against a rebuilding foe. And if they are who we think they are...they will.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 13

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

Sunday 12/2/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

San Diego Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Key Additions:

QB Geno Smith, TE Virgil Green, C Mike Pouncey, CB Jaylen Watkins, K Caleb Sturgis, S Derwin James, OLB Uchenna Nwosu, DT Justin Jones, S/LB Kyzir White, C/G Scott Quessenberry

Significant Departures:

RB Branden Oliver, TE Antonio Gates, G/C Matt Slauson, G Kenny Wiggins, DE/OLB Jerry Attaochu, S Tre Boston, K Nick Novak.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers know how to play the Steelers tough. Melvin Gordon could break loose and punish Pittsburgh, but this day belongs to “the Men of Steel” and not “the Lads of Lightning”.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 14

At Oakland (6-10)

Sunday 12/9/2018 8:20 PM EDT (NBC)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Key Additions:

RB Doug Martin, FB Keith Smith, WR Jordy Nelson, WR Martavis Bryant, TE Derek Carrier, DE Tank Carradine, DT Ahtyba Rubin, OLB Tahir Whitehead, ILB Derrick Johnson, CB Rashaan Melvin, CB Shareece Wright, CB Daryl Worley, CB Leon Hall, S Marcus Gilchrist, OT Kolton Miller, NT P.J. Hall, OT Brandon Parker, DE Arden Key, DT Maurice Hurst.

Significant Departures:

WR Michael Crabtree, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, OT Marshall Newhouse, DE Aldon Smith, ILB NaVorro Bowman, CB David Amerson, CB Sean Smith, S Keith McGill, K Sebastian

Janikowski, P Marquette King.

The Steelers don’t do well in the hometown of Stanley Burrell — that’s MC Hammer to you and me. Of the eleven games played in “the Black Hole,” Pittsburgh has only been victorious three times and last won there in 1995. Ben Roethlisberger is winless there as well. If that shouldn’t sufficiently motivate Ben, maybe David Carr’s criticism of him will do so even further. On the other sideline, Carr will want to best Ben and Martavis Bryant (if not suspended) has incentive to excel in this one also.

Prediction: Raiders

Week 15

New England (13-3)

Sunday 12/16/2018 4:25 PM EDT (CBS)

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Key Additions:

WR Jordan Matthews, DT Danny Shelton, CB Jason McCourty, WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson, OL Jason Bowanko, TE Troy Niklas, OL Matt Tobin, DE Adrian Clayborn, RB Sony Michel, DT Isaiah Wynn, CB Duke Dawson, TE Ryan Izzo, WR Braxton Berrios

Significant Departures:

CB Malcolm Butler, LT Nate Solder, RB/KR Dion Lewis, DE Shea McClellin, TE Martellus Bennett, WR Danny Amendola

On the day before the first anniversary of the Jesse James game, the two combatants meet again. Quite simply, this team really needs to beat New England because great teams find a way to beat other great teams. In a game that could decide playoff seeding, the Steelers squeak past the Pats.

Prediction: Steelers

Week 16

At New Orleans Saints (11-5)

Sunday 12/23/2018 4:25 PM EDT (CBS)

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images

Key Additions:

WR Cameron Meredith, TE Ben Watson, G Jermon Bushrod, ILB Demario Davis, CB Patrick Robinson, S Kurt Coleman, DE Marcus Davenport, WR Tre’Quan Smith, OT Rick Leonard

Significant Departures:

FB Zach Line, TE Coby Fleener, OT Zach Strief, DT Nick Fairley, ILB Gerald Hodges, CB Delvin Breaux, S Kenny Vaccaro

Prediction: Saints

In what could be a tough loss following a huge win, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara will be difficult to stop. But it’s not a letdown if you lose to a Super Bowl contender.

Week 17

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)

Sunday 12/30/2018 1:00 PM EDT (CBS)

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Key Additions:

OT Cordy Glenn, DT Chris Baker, ILB Preston Brown, C Billy Price, S Jessie Bates, DE Sam Hubbard, LB Malik Jefferson

Significant Departures:

QB A.J. McCarron, RB Jeremy Hill, OT Andre Smith, C Russell Bodine, ILB Kevin Minter, CB Pacman Jones.

Hopefully, either Landry Jones or Mason Rudolph starts this game because the playoff seeding is already wrapped up. Either way, the Steelers end the regular season at 12-4.

Prediction: Steelers

...

Of course, I might be way off. But we can check back at season's end to see how I did. If I'm “on,” then we should all be relatively happy.