Pittsburgh Steelers schedule and predictions takeaways:
- Steelers have the highest strength of schedule in 2021, via The Athletic
- Pittsburgh appears in five primetime games, including twice on Monday Night Football
- Steelers end their 2021 season with four consecutive games against opponents in the top-10 of our NFL power rankings
The Pittsburgh Steelers schedule likely won’t be doing this team any favors in 2021, with the strongest strength of schedule and real concerns about how they will perform after last season’s second-half collapse.
Pittsburgh looked like the AFC’s biggest threat, entering the second week of December with an 11-0 record. But everything came crashing down quickly, losing four of the final five regular-season games. Ultimately, the Steelers’ season ended in ugly fashion against the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round.
There are even more questions about this team entering the 2021 season. Ben Roethlisberger is a year older, playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and this defense is poised to take a step back. So, just a year after playing like a Super Bowl contender, it could be a rough fall in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers schedule predictions, roster outlook
Steelers roster outlook
All our predictions are based on the Steelers keeping and starting these key players:
- QB – Ben Roethlisberger
- RB – Najee Harris
- WR – Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington
- TE – Eric Ebron, Pat Freirmuth
- Defense – No. 8 in 2021 NFL defense rankings
Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 preseason schedule
|Thursday, Aug. 5||vs. Dallas Cowboys||8:00 PM||FOX|
|Thursday, Aug. 12||@ Philadelphia Eagles||7:30 PM||KDKA-TV|
|Saturday, Aug. 23||vs. Detroit Lions||7:30 PM||KDKA-TV|
|Friday, Aug. 27||@ Carolina Panthers||7:30 PM||KDKA-TV|
This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.
Let’s dive into our 2021 predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Week 1 – @ Buffalo Bills
|Sunday, Sep. 12||1:00 PM||CBS|
- Spread: Bills -6.5 (via DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Bills -278, Steelers +220
- Over/Under: 50
Buffalo beat the Steelers in 2020 thanks to a strong third quarter, outscoring the Steelers 14-0 in a 26-15 victory. With Pittsburgh’s defense in a weaker state this year, Josh Allen will have even more time to pick this secondary apart. Stefon Diggs should dominate, the Bills’ pass rush will cause problems and that will be more than enough to decide this game.
- Week 1 schedule prediction: Bills 28, Steelers 16
Week 2 – vs. Las Vegas Raiders
|Sunday, Sep. 19||1:00 PM||CBS|
Las Vegas tore apart its offensive line this offseason and that’s music to the ears of T.J. Watt. This projects to be a rough game for Derek Carr, with Pittsburgh’s defensive line creating constant pressure and essentially living in the backfield. The scoreboard might be close, but the game shouldn’t be.
Week 2 schedule prediction: Steelers 28, Raiders 20
Week 3 – vs. Cincinnati Bengals
|Sunday, Sp. 26||1:00 PM||CBS|
Cincinnati didn’t have a great offseason, but it should take a step forward in 2021 with Joe Burrow healthy and this offense becoming more consistent. However, the Steelers are the more experienced team and still have enough disruptors in the front seven to make moving downfield quite difficult for the Bengals.
- Week 3 schedule prediction: Steelers 28, Bengals 17
Week 4 – @ Green Bay Packers
|Sunday, Oct. 3||4:25 PM||CBS|
It’s safe to assume Aaron Rodgers won’t be playing in this game. Facing Jordan Love in his first season as a starter, Watt is going to look for every way he can to make a statement in his return home. With the Packers’ offense making more mistakes, especially under pressure, there’s a great chance Pittsburgh comes away with the win.
- Week 4 schedule prediction: Steelers 30, Packers 24
Week 5 – vs. Denver Broncos
|Sunday, Oct. 10||1:00 PM||FOX|
As the Steelers’ defense regresses, Vic Fangio’s group in Denver is poised to rebound in 2021. The pass rush gets Von Miller back and this might be one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Whether Teddy Bridgewater is starting and protecting the football or the Broncos’ defense does the heavy lifting for Drew Lock, the Broncos win this game.
- Week 5 schedule prediction: Broncos 24, Steelers 20
Week 6 – vs. Seattle Seahawks
|Sunday, Oct. 17||8:20 PM||NBC|
Russell Wilson and Co. against the Steelers’ secondary is a recipe for fireworks. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the cornerbacks to cover D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. A great pass rush could help offset that, but Wilson is better than anyone at buying time. Count on three touchdowns from Wilson and Jamal Adams getting a sack on Big Ben in a Seahawks’ victory.
- Week 6 schedule prediction: Seahawks 27, Steelers 21
WEEK 7 BYE
Week 8 – @ Cleveland Browns
|Sunday, Oct. 31||1:00 PM||CBS|
We saw a changing of the guards last winter, Cleveland took the reigns in this division and will be controlling this rivalry. After years of being the little brother in this series, the Browns are poised to dominate the Steelers for the next several years.
- Week 8 schedule prediction: Browns 27, Steelers 17
Week 9 – vs. Chicago Bears
|Monday, Nov. 8||8:15 PM||ESPN|
Andy Dalton won’t be the starter for long. If Justin Fields is under center for Chicago, he can create just enough plays in a potential low-scoring game. Both of these defenses are good, but not elite, and that should make this a close contest that comes down to the final minutes.
- Week 9 schedule prediction: Bears 17, Steelers 13
Week 10 – vs. Detroit Lions
|Sunday, Nov. 14||1:00 PM||FOX|
The Detroit Lions might be a very good team in a few years, but this will be a season their fans won’t want to witness. While getting pressure won’t be easy against Detroit’s offensive line, there isn’t a real threat at wide receiver. Plus, the Lions’ defense is a huge work in progress. This might be one of the Steelers’ few double-digit victories.
- Week 10 schedule prediction: Steelers 31, Lions 13
Week 11 – @ Los Angeles Chargers
|Sunday, Nov. 21||8:20 PM||NBC|
Los Angeles finally provided its quarterback with an offensive line. Justin Herbert thrived when given a clean pocket in his rookie season and he should take another step forward in the upcoming season. Pair that with Brandon Staley calling plays for a healthy defense, the end result is another defeat for Pittsburgh.
- Week 12 schedule prediction: Chargers 30, Steelers 25
Week 12 – @ Cincinnati Bengals
|Sunday, Nov. 28||1:00 PM||CBS|
The Bengals are a year away from giving Pittsburgh a serious threat in their head-to-head meetings. T.J. Watt just seems to love facing Cincinnati’s offensive line and we don’t expect anything different this year. With the Bengals’ pass rush still weak, they can’t exploit the Steelers’ Achilles heel.
- Week 12 schedule prediction: Steelers 26, Bengals 17
Week 13 – vs. Baltimore Ravens
|Sunday, Dec. 5||4:25 PM||CBS|
The Steelers swept their two-game series against their hated rivals in 2020, expect a very different outcome this time around. Baltimore’s offense is far more explosive than the one that took the field last year and the Steelers’ secondary is weaker. With the Ravens having the superior quarterback, running game and winning in the trenches, this goes to Baltimore.
- Week 13 schedule prediction: Ravens 31, Steelers 27
Week 14 – @ Minnesota Vikings
|Thursday, Dec. 9||8:20 PM||FOX, NFL|
Minnesota’s defense should be better than the unit we saw take the field last season. That’s good news for Mike Zimmer’s stress level, but there are still enough questions at quarterback that lead to the Steelers having the edge in this matchup.
- Week 14 schedule prediction: Steelers 17, Vikings 10
Week 15 – vs. Tennessee Titans
|Sunday, Dec. 19||1:00 PM||CBS|
Tennessee’s defense should be a lot better than what we saw in 2020 and Bud Dupree will play a critical role in that improvement. Both teams figure to run the ball a ton in this one, setting up play-action shots to create more excitement later in the game. The edge goes to Ryan Tannehill over Roethlisberger, but this should be a competitive matchup.
- Week 15 schedule prediction: Titans 34, Steelers 27
Week 16 – @ Kansas City Chiefs
|Sunday, Dec. 26||4:25 PM||CBS|
There will be plenty of moments in 2021 when Pittsburgh’s defense looks great, creating turnovers and getting to the quarterback. Against Patrick Mahomes and a vastly improved offensive line, that won’t be the case. This could be one of those matchups that is decided by halftime, with the Steelers only making it look closer than it was at the end.
- Week 16 schedule prediction: Chiefs 41, Steelers 31
Week 17 – vs. Cleveland Browns
|Monday, Jan. 3||8:15 PM||ESPN|
Pittsburgh did its best to tread water this offseason, making the best of a difficult cap situation. As for the Browns, they might be the biggest winners of the NFL Draft and free agency. These two teams are headed in opposite directions and no one should be surprised by a two-game sweep in 2021.
- Week 17 schedule prediction: Browns 34, Steelers 24
Week 18 – @ Baltimore Ravens
|Sunday, Jan. 9||1:00 PM||CBS|
Baltimore’s depth chart is simply superior to the Steelers’ roster in 2021. When you have nearly every advantage on offense and one of the NFL’s best defenses, that’s more than enough to get the job done at home. After getting swept by Pittsburgh last fall, Baltimore will get the brooms out in 2021.
- Week 18 schedule prediction: Ravens 24, Steelers 13
Pittsburgh Steelers record projection: 6-11
A quarterback approaching 40 playing behind a potentially awful offensive line is a recipe for disaster. Pittsburgh approached the 2021 NFL Draft like it was just a few pieces away from Super Bowl contention. That will likely prove to be a mistake as this team could regress significantly in 2021 and then be forced to launch a rebuild next offseason.