The Steelers will face the NFL's most challenging schedule in 2015.
For Super Bowl winning coach Mike Tomlin, it's a chance go against some of the other great coaches in his profession.
You'd be hard-pressed to find another NFL team that faces the amount the high-caliber coaches the Steelers will go up against this fall, as Pittsburgh will face three Super Bowl winning coaches and two other coaches that have led their teams to the Big Game. Bill Belichick, John Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have combined to lead their teams to the Super Bowl nine times with six victories. Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Rams coach Jeff Fisher have also led teams to Super Bowls, Fisher with the Titans in 1999 and Reid with the Eagles in 2004. Combined, Reid and Fisher have coached 36 seasons in the NFL, tallying 312 wins and guiding their teams to the playoffs 16 times.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano has guided Indianapolis to two consecutive 11-win regular seasons, while his former assistant, 2012 NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians, has guided the Cardinals to 21 wins in his first two seasons in Arizona. Arians' career in Pittsburgh is well-documented, as he was the team's offensive coordinator during the Steelers runs to Super Bowls XLIII and XLV. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who led the Texans to consecutive playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012, was Denver's offensive coordinator during the teams back-to-back Super Bowl championship run in 1997 and '98.
While his team has still not tasted success in the playoffs, Marvin Lewis' ability to keep the Bengals competitive is reason enough to include his name among the better coaches in the NFL. Lewis has always been a defensive guru, stemming from his days as linebackers coach with the Steelers in the mid 1990s and then as the Ravens defensive coordinator their Super Bowl season in 2000.
Tomlin is 2-2 against Belichick, better than most coaches have fared against the four-time Super Bowl winning coach. He's also 10-9 against Harbaugh that includes a 2-1 record against him in the post season. He's 2-1 against both Fisher and Reid-coached teams, and is 12-4 against Lewis's Bengals that includes five season sweeps of Cincinnati. Tomlin is 1-1 against Kubiac-coached teams and 1-0 against Pagano after last season's 51-34 win over the Colts in Pittsburgh.
Tomlin, who boasts a .641 career winning percentage to go with a 9-5 post season record, was recently named the sixth best coach in the NFL by cbssports.com. Despite his success, Tomlin has received his share of criticism in recent years, and even received some by former Steelers Bill Cowher and Hines Ward after the team's 3-3 start last season. Tomlin ignored the noise and guided the Steelers to an 8-2 record to close out the 2014 regular season, and continued success against some of the other top-tier coaches in the NFL this season would go a long way in helping Tomlin get the credit he deserves.