Saddled with the most difficult schedule in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers schedule only gets more difficult as the weather turns colder. Today we take a look at their games against the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.
Browns- Weeks 10 & 17- Can a few talented Browns players and their offensive line compensate for everything else that is wrong with the team?
The Steelers first game against the Browns is week 10. At this point in the season they will have already played the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns have some talented players, but for the most part they are known for their ineptitude at fielding a competitive team year after year after year after year. This year should be no exception.
QB and 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel has been a disappointment so far, WR Josh Gordon is facing a drug-related suspension, and the other 2014 first-round pick Justin has not panned out either. Neither has 2013 first-round pick LB Barkevious Mingo. Dwayne Bowe is a decent wide receiver, but overall their WR corps is weak, and without a strong quarterback (Josh McCown seems to be their man these days), it will be difficult to leverage the talent they have in that position.
The Browns did just acquire a Pro Bowl punter from the 49ers in Andy Lee.This year's first-round pick Danny Shelton should be able to contribute on the defensive line, especially in terms of run defense. The Cleveland secondary isn't terrible and they have a great offensive line, but with so many other deficiencies, a strong secondary and offensive line will not win games.
The Steelers do occasionally struggle against weak teams, but since Cleveland is a division rival, they should be able to prepare effectively for this game and pull out wins both times they meet.
Seahawks- Week 12- Is this the toughest opponent on the Steelers schedule?
After the Super Bowl, it was rumored that the Legion of Boom was crippled by injury, but it seems those players are on the mend and that the Seahawks secondary will continue to be a menace during the 2015 season, especially by week 12.
RB Marshawn Lynch. (Not much else to say there. His name says it all.) QB Russel Wilson struggled some last year, but his tenacity, mobility, and ability to execute big plays could be a challenge for the Steelers defense.
The Steelers are also playing in Seattle, which will make a difficult game even more difficult. A Steelers victory in Seattle, though, could provide needed momentum for the end of the season, and hopefully, postseason.
Colts- Week 13- What impact will losses of key players have on the Colt's?
The Colts will be playing their 2015 season without Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, Trent Richardson, AQ Shipley, and Ahmad Bradshaw on the offensive side of the ball. Some of these players were not strong contributors last year, but they still left a void that the Colts had to fill through their first-round draft pick Phillip Dorsett and veteran Andre Johnson.
On the defensive side of the ball the Colts might be struggling after losing both Cory Redding and Ricky Jean-Francois. The Colts have already struggled against the run, and without those key players, they may continue to struggle into the upcoming season.
QB Andrew Luck has a knack for winning, so despite some personnel turnover, the Colts should be a strong competitor.
Broncos- Week 15 How will the transition from John Fox to Gary Kubiak play out?
The Steelers play the Broncos at Heinz Field, which is significant since the altitude in Denver can make things difficult for visiting opponents.
Former Steeler WR Emmanuel Sanders is coming off of a strong season, while Peyton Manning is still one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Meanwhile, WR Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos organization have yet to work out a contract and, consequently, Thomas is a hold out. There have also already faced some serious injuries, losing both TE Jeff Heuerman and tackle Ryan Clady to ACL injuries. Both will be out for the season.There are numerous questions about the O-line starters and its fate in general.
The Broncos are also adjusting to a new playbook and new head coach in Gary Kubiak in the wake of John Fox's departure from the team. Wade Phillips has also joined the team as defensive coordinator. Phillips is a strong DC, but his arrival signals even more transition and change for the Broncos.