Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Schedule: Early Preview of Divisional Matchups

Justin Onslow@@JustinOnslowNFLContributor IIApril 19, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gestures during the game against the Clevelend Browns at Heinz Field on December 30, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell victim to the three-year curse last season. If the last 12 years are any indication, the 2013 season should have a playoff appearance in store for one of the AFC’s best franchises.

Since missing the playoffs in 2000, the Steelers have earned consecutive playoff appearances four times and missed the postseason every third year. It may seem like superstition, but any good Steelers fan will admit there’s reason to be hopeful for another postseason appearance this year.

One of the most consistent organizations in the history of the NFL (at least in the last four decades), Pittsburgh has the foundation to return to AFC North dominance in 2013. Kevin Colbert has some work to do in order to put his team in position to succeed, but there’s no reason to believe the Steelers won’t rise to the top of the division when all is said and done.

The full NFL schedule was released Thursday, and it appears the Steelers are in prime position to rebound from an 8-8 record of a year ago. With the 11th easiest schedule in the league, this will be as good a chance as any to chase down a seventh Lombardi Trophy.


September 8 vs. Tennessee November 3 at New England
September 16 at Cincinnati November 10 vs. Buffalo
September 22 vs. Chicago November 17 vs. Detroit
September 29 at Minnesota November 24 at Cleveland
October 6 BYE November 28 at Baltimore
October 13 at NYJ December 8 vs. Miami
October 20 vs. Baltimore December 15 vs. Cincinnati
October 27 at Oakland December 22 at Green Bay
  December 29 vs. Cleveland

*Full schedule can also be found at NFL.com.


Baltimore Ravens

2013 Meetings: October 20 (Week 7) and November 28 (Week 13)

2012 Series: 1-1

What to Watch for

The rivalry between Pittsburgh and Baltimore needs little introduction. There’s always some bad blood brewing when these teams face off.

The Steelers split their season series with the Ravens last year, winning in a 23-20 showdown on December 2 after dropping a 13-10 contest at Heinz Field just two weeks earlier. The Week 13 win could have been a springboard to the postseason, but three consecutive losses doomed the Steelers’ playoff aspirations.

The road to an AFC North title goes through Baltimore. If the Steelers hope to reclaim their throne in pursuit of a seventh Lombardi Trophy, they have to defeat the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Both teams underwent considerable roster overhaul this offseason. While both rosters are sure to look noticeably different in 2013, this rivalry won’t be any different. Expect two extremely physical football games from Baltimore and Pittsburgh.


Cleveland Browns

2013 Meetings: November 24 (Week 12) and December 29 (Week 17)

2012 Series: 1-1

What to Watch for

The Steelers found themselves in dangerous territory late last season. With Ben Roethlisberger on the shelf and Byron Leftwich joining him in Week 11, Pittsburgh traveled to Cleveland with Charlie Batch under center and uncharacteristically faltered against the hapless Browns.

Pittsburgh avenged the loss in Week 17, but the playoffs were already out of the picture.

The Browns haven’t experienced much success since their return to Cleveland, but several positive changes this offseason should make them a much more difficult challenge in 2013. The AFC North continues to improve and the Steelers have to keep pace.

Pittsburgh fans don’t need a reminder of how important it is to beat the Browns. But rivalries aside, Cleveland could be a legitimate contender in the coming years, and the Steelers have to stay ahead of the surging teams in the division.

Additionally, there’s always the potential for the traditional Week 17 showdown between these two squads to have playoff implications. Should the Steelers be in a tight race for the playoffs by the end of the season, expect their December 29 matchup to be an exciting game to watch.


Cincinnati Bengals

2013 Meetings: September 16 (Week 2) and December 15 (Week 15)

2012 Series: 1-1

What to Watch for

The Steelers get their first taste of primetime action in Week 2 against the Bengals in a Monday Night Football showdown that will set the tone for the AFC North race. And that game won’t be the last primetime contest between the two squads.

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati also face off in Week 15 for a Sunday Night Football matchup tucked neatly between a home game against the Miami Dolphins and a tough road matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

The final five weeks of the schedule won’t be easy for the Steelers, and beating the Bengals could prove to be enough to punch a ticket to the postseason. It’s still far too early to make any predictions, but the layout of this schedule will make this game a potential must-win affair.