Eight months after losing three of their final four regular-season games to finish 8-8 and on the outside of the AFC playoff picture, the Pittsburgh Steelers will kick off their 2013 campaign at home against the Tennessee Titans.
Pittsburgh will play in four prime-time games in 2013, including two at home at Heinz Field. Outside of the AFC North division, the Steelers will play the AFC East, the NFC North and Oakland and Tennessee from the AFC West and South, respectively.
Below, we'll showcase the Steelers' can't-miss matchups for this coming fall.
Week 9: At New England Patriots
The Steelers will travel to New England midseason to play a pivotal game against the Patriots, a team that has won the AFC five times since 2001.
It goes without saying that Pittsburgh will need to have an excellent showing in Foxborough, as this game could determine which team takes home-field advantage into the AFC playoffs next January.
Ben Roethlisberger and company have fared well against Tom Brady's Pats in recent meetings, but this regular-season game will be an excellent barometer for a Steelers team that finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs last year.
If Pittsburgh can knock off New England on the road in November, it'll send a loud message to the rest of the conference heading into the second half of the season. The Steelers and Pats are perennial contenders in the AFC and the winner of this clash could wind up with the upper hand in a more important meeting down the road.
Week 13: At Baltimore Ravens
As is always the case, Pittsburgh's two showdowns with AFC North rival Baltimore will be huge in 2013, but if there's one that every Steelers supporter and casual NFL fan must tune in for, it's Week 13's Thanksgiving Day matchup in Charm City—the second of the two meetings.
The Steelers will host the Ravens in Week 7, but Week 13's matchup will be played in prime time on Thursday Night Football just four days after Pittsburgh's Week 12 game at Cleveland.
Two divisional games on the road in four days will tell us a whole lot about the 2013 Steelers and whether they are a contender or pretender in the AFC.
Baltimore will also be at a disadvantage playing its second game in four days, but will have a sea of charged-up supporters at its back. Either way, Pittsburgh will be looking for a positive result. A loss inside the division heading into the final quarter of the season could really set the Steelers back in their journey to return to the postseason.
Week 16: At Green Bay Packers
With the regular season winding down in Week 16, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers will hit the road for the last time to take on the Green Bay Packers at frigid Lambeau Field three days before Christmas in a rematch of Super Bowl XLV.
Another very difficult road test, this matchup will serve as another crucial barometer for Pittsburgh as the Steelers will likely be in the playoff hunt this coming December.
This late-season matchup could be critical in determining whether Pittsburgh makes the playoffs, wins the AFC North or wraps a first-round bye or home-field advantage. In addition to what will likely be at stake, these two teams are very evenly matched, which should make for a classic.
The last time they met in the regular season was in December 2009. The Steelers won that game in thrilling fashion at Heinz Field, 37-36, on a touchdown pass on the game's final play. Still, Aaron Rodgers and the Pack have had bragging rights for the past two years following their Super Bowl victory.
If this year's showdown between the Steelers and Packers is anything like the previous two, it will be can't-miss football.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Schedule (courtesy of NFL.com)
|1||Sunday, Sept. 8||vs. Tennessee Titans||1 p.m.|
|2||Monday, Sept. 16||at Cincinnati Bengals||8:30 p.m.|
|3||Sunday, Sept. 22||vs. Chicago Bears||8:30 p.m.|
|4||Sunday, Sept. 29||at Minnesota Vikings||1 p.m.|
|6||Sunday, Oct. 13||at New York Jets||1 p.m.|
|7||Sunday, Oct. 20||vs. Baltimore Ravens||4:25 p.m.|
|8||Sunday, Oct. 27||at Oakland Raiders||4:05 p.m.|
|9||Sunday, Nov. 3||at New England Patriots||4:25 p.m.|
|10||Sunday, Nov. 10||vs. Buffalo Bills||1 p.m.|
|11||Sunday, Nov. 17||vs. Detroit Lions||1 p.m.|
|12||Sunday, Nov. 24||at Cleveland Browns||1 p.m.|
|13||Thursday, Nov. 28||at Baltimore Ravens||8:30 p.m.|
|14||Sunday, Dec. 8||vs. Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.|
|15||Sunday, Dec. 15||vs. Cincinnati Bengals||8:30 p.m.|
|16||Sunday, Dec. 22||at Green Bay Packers||4:25 p.m.|
|17||Sunday, Dec. 29||vs. Cleveland Browns||1 p.m.|
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