The NFL schedule is complex, but if you know the reasoning behind it, it really is rather simple. First, let’s look at the equation to get to 16 of the 17 games on the regular season schedule:
Every year each division is paired up with both an AFC and NFC division, which represents 8 games on the schedule. Each team plays everyone in their division twice, add another 6 games. So, where do the other two games come from to round out the schedule? Depending on which place the team finishes, they play the other teams who finished with the same ranking in the other two divisions.
So, who will the Pittsburgh Steelers be playing in 2023? Well, in 2022 the AFC North was paired with the AFC East and NFC South, but in 2023 they are paired up with the AFC South and the NFC West.
Those 8 opponents will be:
But what about the other two opponents? They will play the team who finished in the same place as the Steelers in their division for both the AFC West and AFC East. The fact the Steelers could finish either 3rd or 4th in the AFC North makes this one of the games which isn’t known yet. In the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs have locked up the division crown with the Los Angeles Chargers in second place. This means the Steelers could play either the Las Vegas Raiders or Denver Broncos, depending on where Pittsburgh finishes. Likewise, the Buffalo Bills have clinched the AFC East with the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets all vying for second place. This game will come down to the final week.
When it comes to the 17th game on the schedule, in 2021 all AFC teams hosted an NFC team from a matched division, playing the team who ranked the same. So, in 2021 it was the AFC North paired with the NFC West, with the NFC West teams all traveling to the AFC North team. This was why the Los Angeles Rams traveled to play the Ravens in Baltimore, and why the Seattle Seahawks had a Sunday night game at Heinz Field that year.
In 2022, the AFC North was paired with the NFC East, and the AFC North will be traveling. So, this was why the Steelers traveled to play the Philadelphia Eagles this past season. In 2023, the AFC North is paired with the NFC North, and the AFC is hosting. It means an extra home game for the Steelers, and it could mean they play either Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers or Chicago Bears, depending on where the NFC North and AFC North finish.
As for a simpler breakdown of the schedule, here is who the Steelers will play both at home, and away, in 2023. The opponents will be finalized after Week 18, but the day and times for these games won’t be known until later this spring.
Los Angeles Rams
AFC West equivalent
Again, the NFL schedule is a system, so the Steelers’ opponents for the foreseeable future are already known, including their location. However, there are those opponents which aren’t known until the season has wrapped up. Looking ahead, how the Steelers finish this 2022 season, along with how the other divisions shake out, will have a pretty big impact on their 2023 schedule.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 18.