The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 schedule is finalized, except for the dates. A quick glance at the schedule shows it’ll be one of the easier strength of schedules (SOS) in the NFL. SOS is based on a team's opponents’ records in the prior season. In the 2017 regular season, the Black-and-Gold will face a combined 115-139-2 record, with their opponents posting a dismal 0.453 winning percentage. This is tied for fifth-easiest SOS in 2017.
The Steelers play four 2016 divisional winners (New England, Kansas City, Houston and Green Bay) and one additional playoff team (Detroit). Of course, numbers can be misleading. Cleveland, Chicago, and Jacksonville skew the SOS with their combined 0.125 winning percentage. All in all, the Steelers' 2017 SOS is barely different from their 2016 SOS, which was 0.473%. Fans already know what sort of success that easier schedule bred in 2016.
Breaking down the numbers further, we see that Pittsburgh’s home SOS of 0.461% and still-easier 0.441% SOS in road games bode well for 2017 success. Here are the Steelers’ opponents for next season, along with their records in the current season:
Green Bay 10-6
New England 14-2
Kansas City 12-4
While an easy SOS often foretells good things, Steelers fans also have seen that a brutal SOS can be overcome. In 2015, the Steelers had the toughest SOS in the NFL at 0.579. But the team still put up 10 wins and beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the following week, their season came to an end in the second round against the eventual Super Bowl champs, the Denver Broncos. Six losses were by a mere, combined 38 points.
Steelers fans have been frustrated by “trap” games in recent seasons. Games that the Black-and-Gold should have won but, for whatever reason, were not able to capitalize on, and ended up losing. Will an increased number of “cupcakes” prove to be beneficial, or will this create additional stumbling blocks in 2017?
The following list shows the Steelers’ SOS and their opponents’ records during the past five seasons:
2012 0.500 8-8
2013 0.496 8-8
2014 0.469 11-5
2015 0.579 10-6
2016 0.473 11-5