The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with all other NFL franchises, got a glimpse of their 2015 regular season schedule Tuesday. As the schedule was rolled out on a red carpet, experts everywhere are making their predictions for how the new season will shake out. The experts at ESPN.com have released their predictions for the entire NFL. See how they see the AFC North finishing when the dust settles on the 2015 season.
9-7. The combination of four trips out west (including two back-to-back), an opening stretch of five road games in the first seven weeks and a total of five games against teams with losing records make this the toughest schedule in coach John Harbaugh's eight seasons. This isn't a playoff team right now, but the Ravens do their best work at this time of the offseason. -- Jamison Hensley
10-6. With a timely bye, a veteran roster and some favorable late-season matchups, the Bengals can get 10 wins even after going 5-5 heading into Thanksgiving. Despite prime-time road games in Weeks 15 and 16 (the Bengals are 1-12 on the road at night since 2005), they still can go 5-1 to close out the regular season. -- Coley Harvey
4-12. The Browns might answer their quarterback question by opening day, but as of today it's a black hole that needs filling. That, the lack of a potent offense in an era of offense and a difficult schedule means the Browns take steps back this season. -- Pat McManamon
9-7. All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell will miss up to the first three games of the season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy and All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is unhappy with his contract with three years still left on it. What should concern the Steelers more is they have enough questions at outside linebacker and in their secondary to fill a show of "Jeopardy," not to mention a demanding schedule in which they open at New England and play five of their last six games against teams that made the playoffs in 2014. -- Scott Brown
As you can see, the AFC North experts are seeing the Steelers and Ravens tied for second place while the Cincinnati Bengals narrowly squeak out another AFC North title. The Browns resume their usual position at the bottom of the barrel looking up at the three teams in the division who made the postseason in 2014. Whether a 9-7 record would be good enough to get Pittsburgh and/or Baltimore into the postseason is certainly debatable. Recent history tends to say it won't be enough to make the postseason.
Nonetheless, as reigning AFC North champions, the Steelers certainly will not be daunted by the loss of Le'Veon Bell for the first three games, nor a difficult schedule. It will be up to Mike Tomlin and company to get the team acclimated and ready for the regular season with a modified roster and a team looking to make a statement, as they did in 2008 with the NFL's most difficult schedule. If you forget how that season ended, it resulted in the organization's 6th Lombardi trophy.