The anticipation of the NFL schedule release seems to grow each and every year. If you live in the area and frequently go to the games, you are excited to figure out which game is the most appealing to you and your schedule. If you do not live in the area and rely on your television to watch the games, you are eager to see which games are nationally televised and which regional games could potentially be shown in your area.
No matter what your situation is, we all love the schedule and enjoy predicting which games our beloved Steelers will win. Believed by many to be the toughest schedule in the entire NFL, the Steelers will be faced with difficult opponents up and down the schedule. However, it certainly seems to fans like myself that the Steelers have played better when the schedule is more difficult during the Mike Tomlin era.
I am cautiously optimistic about the Steelers’ chances to make the playoffs, but in a challenging division and conference, the Steelers will likely need at least ten wins to make it into the playoffs. Let’s predict each game on Pittsburgh’s schedule and see if an AFC North division crown is feasible.
at Buffalo Bills
Sunday 9/12/2021 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Buffalo did not make a ton of splashy moves this offseason, but as long as their offensive line keeps Josh Allen upright, the Bills will be tough to stop on offense. Depth is slightly lacking in the secondary, however, and the Steelers have the receivers that can make them pay down the field. What concerns me the most is the offense getting off to a fast start. At the beginning of each season, it usually takes time for the Steelers to shake off the rust and build chemistry, and with a new-look offense led by Matt Canada, I expect there to be some growing pains at the beginning of the season. A win would be an excellent confidence booster for the team, but traveling to Buffalo week one to face Josh Allen is not an ideal way to begin the year.
Prediction: Bills win 27-20 (0-1)
Las Vegas Raiders
Sunday 9/19/21 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
From trading center Rodney Hudson, to signing Kenyan Drake, to releasing their best defensive linemen from last year, to drafting Alex Leatherwood ahead of Christian Darrisaw, it has been a head-scratching offseason for the Raiders. The additions of John Brown and Willie Snead could round out a receiving corps that is led by second-year receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, but there is still a lot of unknown at the position. There has been a major turnover on the offensive line, and the defense is still a mess as a whole. I realize that the Steelers occasionally play down to poor opponents, but I expect us to win our home opener and improve to 1-1.
Prediction: Steelers win 31-20 (1-1)
Sunday 9/26/21 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
The Bengals have the potential to be one of the most potent offenses in the NFL after adding Ja’Marr Chase to a receiving corps that already boasts Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. With Giovani Bernard out of the picture, Joe Mixon will now attempt to remain healthy for the entire season as the three-down back. Fortunately for Steelers fans, there are still a lot of unanswered questions on the offensive line. The Bengals added Riley Reiff through free agency and drafted Jackson Carman and Trey Hill, but they passed on one of the best linemen to come out in years in Penei Sewell. The Bengals are trying to keep Jonah Williams at left tackle, but he is coming off an injury and has not been dominant his first two seasons. A lot of people think the Bengals can win this one, but I expect the Steelers’ pass rush to get to Burrow early and often.
Prediction: Steelers win 26-17 (2-1)
at Green Bay Packers
Sunday 10/3/21 4:25 PM ET (CBS)
I originally had us picked to lose this game with Jordan Love as the quarterback, but for some reason, I actually like our chances better with Aaron Rodgers back. As mentioned at the beginning, the Steelers tend to play better when the competition is tougher. Losing to a Packers team without Aaron Rodgers seems like a game a typical Steelers team under Tomlin would drop. Jordan Love is no joke, and I believe he is going to surprise the NFL when he gets his opportunity, but if Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are in sync, there is no cornerback on the Steelers roster that will be able to hinder their success. I would much rather go to Lambeau Field in October than in December if I were the Steelers, but I think Rodgers comes back with something to prove in 2021.
Prediction: Packers win 31-30 (2-2)
vs Denver Broncos
Sunday 10/10/21 1:00 PM ET (FOX)
A lot of people are dismissing the Broncos from their radar this season, but they could be a sneaky good team. People love to hate on Drew Lock, but if Mike Munchak’s offensive line can keep Lock upright, that offense is going to be difficult to stop. Denver now has two good options at running back in Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams, and Courtland Sutton is returning from an injury that cost him a good chunk of last season. Noah Fant is also becoming one of the most reliable tight ends in the league. If receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler can cut back on the drops, good luck stopping this offense. I know it will be difficult for the mile-high team to travel to Pittsburgh and come away with a win, but this game has me worried. Denver matches up well against us, and I think they pull off the upset.
Prediction: Broncos win 24-19 (2-3)
Sunday 10/17/21 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Russell Wilson against Ben Roethlisberger at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football is about as good as it gets. In the early portions of the offseason, it seemed as if Russell Wilson was pleading for offensive line help. The Seahawks gave Wilson another dynamic weapon in Dwayne Eskridge, but the guys blocking for Wilson should make Seahawk fans feel uneasy about their chances this season. Second-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks will need to take a major leap if this defense wants to become formidable, and somebody at the cornerback position will need to step up as well. Seattle is never easy in primetime, but I expect Ben Roethlisberger to exploit Seattle’s vulnerable defense.
Prediction: Steelers win 35-21 (3-3)
It may be earlier than some fans wanted, but it will be a much-needed week of rest before a tough second half, including five divisional matchups.
at Cleveland Browns
Sunday 10/31/21 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Going on the road after a bye week to play the Browns on Halloween. What could go wrong? The Steelers tend to come out of the gate slow following a bye, and you do not want to let the Browns get a lead. With a rushing attack led by Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, you are in trouble if you get behind early. I am sure the Steelers will want to get the bad taste out of their mouths from last season’s playoff loss, but I do not like the Steelers’ chances coming off a bye.
Prediction: Browns win 24-10 (3-4)
Monday 11/8/21 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)
We do not know who will be the starting quarterback for the Bears by mid season, but we do know that Matt Nagy is on the hot seat. I would love to see the Steelers get another chance to face Andy Dalton, but if the Bears get desperate, I expect them to turn to Fields, whether that is the best idea or not for the long term. Allen Robinson will be working with the best quarterback he has ever worked with no matter who wins the job, and rising stars Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet will look to have breakout seasons, but I do not see the Steelers dropping two straight games after the bye. Too much is on the line at this point.
Prediction: Steelers win 27-17 (4-4)
Sunday 11/14/21 1:00 PM ET (FOX)
Detroit is the closest team to where I live, so I hear anything noteworthy about the team. However, anybody that pays attention to the NFL can tell you that the Lions are not a scary team on paper. T.J. Hockenson is becoming one of the best tight ends in the league, and I expect 2021 fourth round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown to make a big impact year one, but Detroit is lacking ideal weaponry overall. If Jeff Okudah can put his rookie struggles behind him, the secondary could be solid, but they are still one of the worst teams in the NFL. They are in good position to make a major leap next year, but they are not there yet.
Prediction: Steelers win 26-16 (5-4)
at Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday 11/21/21 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Yes, it is an away game, but there will probably be more Steelers fans at the game than Chargers fans. A lot of people have come around to liking the Chargers' chances of making the postseason, but I am not one of those people. Justin Herbert had a fantastic rookie season, and the additions of Corey Linsley and Jared Cook help fill the voids left by Mike Pouncey and Hunter Henry, but their defense has a lot of question marks. If Derwin James and Joey Bosa can stay healthy, this defense will still be able to create splash plays, but I am not a fan of their cornerbacks outside of rookie Asante Samuel, Jr. Expect JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool to have big games.
Prediction: Steelers win 31-23 (6-4)
at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday 11/28/21 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
If Joe Burrow is still alive at this point of the season, the Bengals should be thrilled. After traveling to Cincinnati from Los Angeles, it would seem reasonable to believe that the Steelers could drop this game. However, I expect the Steelers' offensive line to be in sync with Najee Harris by the second half of the year, and I am not sure the Bengals will be up to the task. Cincinnati has a bright future, but they are not on the level of the Steelers yet.
Prediction: Steelers win 29-17 (7-4)
Sunday 12/5/21 4:25 (CBS)
Is it just me, or does it seem like the road team always wins in this rivalry? Well, it isn’t every time that happens, but the road team has won four of the last six meetings between these two teams. Baltimore still boasts an extraordinary rushing attack led by Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins, but the passing ability of Lamar Jackson is still not where Ravens fans should want it. The addition of Rashod Bateman will only help Jackson, but only time will tell whether it makes a huge difference. Still, Baltimore has arguably the best secondary in the league, and I expect them to be able to pick off a couple passes from Big Ben.
Prediction: Ravens win 26-24 (7-5)
at Minnesota Vikings
Thursday 12/9/21 8:20 PM ET (FOX/NFLN)
The Vikings may finally have all the pieces needed on offense. Justin Jefferson had an outstanding rookie season, and the addition of Dede Westbrook will give Minnesota another complement to veteran to Adam Thielen. The Vikings lost Kyle Rudolph to the Giants this offseason, but third-year tight end Irv Smith, Jr. is poised for a breakout campaign. Their offensive line that now features Christian Darrisaw, Ezra Cleveland, Garrett Bradbury, Wyatt Davis, and Brian O’Neal could be one of the most improved lines in the league as well. The Vikings have several young corners with intrigue, but they are still developing and will likely have some growing pains this year. I actually like the Steelers’ chances when they play on Thursday nights, and as long as the front seven can contain Dalvin Cook, I think the Steelers come away with a win.
Prediction: Steelers win 34-23 (8-5)
Sunday 12/19/21 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Honestly, I believe the Titans are one of the most overrated teams in the NFL. They traded for Julio Jones, but Jones has only played a full sixteen-game season twice in the last five years. Corey Davis was healthier for a larger chunk of the season than Julio was, but still, Davis had over 200 more receiving yards than Jones last season. They still have Anthony Firkser at tight end, but losing starter Jonnu Smith will hurt. I have always liked Jones as a player, but at 32 years old, I am not sure he will be able to replace the production the Titans lost in both Smith and Davis. Derrick Henry is still Derrick Henry, but I think the Steelers prevail.
Prediction: Steelers win 26-18 (9-5)
at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday 12/26/21 4:25 PM ET (CBS)
If Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are all healthy, Kansas City’s lack of receiver depth will not hurt them. Mahomes was my highest rated quarterback in the 2017 draft class, and he has been everything I expected. The guy is truly special, and I do not know if we will ever see another quarterback exactly like him. With a rebuilt offensive line that has both new faces in Creed Humphrey, Kyle Long, Joe Thuney, Trey Smith, and Orlando Brown, Jr. as well as a returning face in Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, this offense will likely be unstoppable. The defense is not superb, but it does not need to be when you have an offense as loaded as Kansas City’s. An upset would not be impossible, but I am not sure if the Steelers’ secondary will be up to the task.
Prediction: Chiefs win 38-24 (9-6)
Monday 1/3/21 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)
The division crown could definitely be on the line, as Cleveland will travel to Pittsburgh in a crucial Monday night matchup. Yes, the Browns are on the rise, but I do not see them beating the Steelers twice in 2021. Losing the first one off the bye will be bad enough, and I believe the Steelers will throw every trick in the book at Cleveland’s defense if need be. This will be the final home game of the season, and the Steelers will be a focused and prepared team. It would not surprise me if the Steelers even tried to run up the score a little.
Prediction: Steelers win 34-15 (10-6)
at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday 1/9/21 1:00 PM ET (CBS)
Just like the week before against Cleveland, this game will likely have either a playoff spot or a division title on the line. I expect this game to get flexed to a later time, but the Steelers-Ravens games are always entertaining no matter which time frame they are playing in. This game is going to come down to the battle in the trenches, and the healthier team should have the upper hand. We cannot predict injuries, but I do not see the Ravens beating the Steelers twice. Lamar Jackson has not exactly been dominant against the Steelers, and Ben Roethlisberger will know what is on the line. He may not put up excellent numbers, but I expect him to lead a clutch drive in the fourth quarter to give the Steelers the win. Najee Harris will have a big game, and the Steelers will head into the playoffs with positive momentum.
Prediction: Steelers win 24-21 (11-6)
With an 11-6 record, the Steelers should be safely in the playoffs, and they could possibly win the AFC North once again. It is difficult to see the Steelers getting past the Chiefs in the playoffs, but this team could definitely make some noise if the new-look offense is as good as advertised.
Stay tuned to BTSC as we get you ready for the 2021 NFL season!