On the strength of a strong finish and an even more impressive offseason, expectations are relatively high for the 2023 Pittsburgh Steelers. After consecutive nine-win seasons, Mike Tomlin's team is expected to make a jump this season that includes a spot in the AFC playoffs.
There are several reasons to believe that the black and yellow will be in the AFC playoff mix this season. For starters, the Steelers will play a third-place schedule for the first time since 2012. Opponents aside, the Steelers possess one of the NFL's tougher defenses and a young offense that should be vastly better than it was a year ago, led by second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Before embarking on a possible playoff run, the Steelers will first have to get through their 17-game regular season. Here's a complete breakdown of Pittsburgh's 2023 schedule (you can see the the Steelers' entire schedule below) that includes notable schedule observations, the toughest stretch and pivotal matchups. We'll also make game-by-game picks that will ultimately conclude with a final projected win-loss record for the black and gold.
Steelers 2023 schedule
|Sept. 10||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sept. 18||8:15 p.m.||ABC|
at Raiders (SNF)
|Sept. 24||8:20 p.m.||NBC|
|Oct. 1||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Oct. 8||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Oct. 22||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|Oct. 29||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Nov. 2 ||8:15 p.m.||Prime Video|
|Nov. 12||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Nov. 19||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Nov. 26||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Dec. 3||1 p.m.||CBS|
|Dec. 7||8:15 p.m.||Amazon|
|Dec. 23 ||4:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Dec. 31||4:05 p.m.||Fox|
|Jan. 6 or 7||TBD||TBD|
Key schedule observations
- Week 6 bye
- Nine road games, eight road games
- First Week 1 home opener since 2014
- Four prime time games (three at home)
- Two "Thursday Night Football" games (both at home)
- 25th ranked strength of schedule (opponents had a combined .470 winning percentage in 2022)
- Eight games against teams that made the playoffs in 2022
- Possible matchups against young QB's that include rookies C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson, Jordan Love, and Trey Lance/Brock Purdy
The NFL saved the Steelers' toughest stretch of the schedule for last. After facing the Colts in Indianapolis in Week 15, the Steelers will host the two-time defending AFC North champion Bengals at home on Dec. 23. They'll then finish the season with two road games against teams that made the playoffs last season. The first game will be a trip out to Seattle to face Pete Carroll's Seahawks. They will then close out the season with a game in Baltimore against their arch rival.
There were a lot to pick from, but we recently narrowed the Steelers' must see games down to the five matchups below.if you want to read a complete breakdown of each game and why they were chosen.
- Week 1 vs. 49ers
- Week 3 at Raiders
- Week 14 vs. Patriots
- Week 16 vs. Bengals
- Week 18 vs. Ravens
You may have noticed that the Browns are the only AFC North team that wasn't included in the above list of pivotal/must see games. Rest assured that both matchups with Cleveland will also be key for the Steelers and their pursuit of a playoff berth. Each AFC North team went 3-3 inside the division last year, so it would go a long way if Pittsburgh was able to sweep one of their division foes while splitting with the other two.
Week 1: San Francisco 49ers -- Look for the Steelers to try to put constant pressure on whoever is playing quarterback for the 49ers. Pittsburgh will win this game if they can pressure the 49ers' QB while also containing the big three of Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. On offense, it'll come down to the effectiveness of the running game and Pickett taking care of the ball and doing his part on weighty downs.
Score: Steelers 16, 49ers 13
Weeks 2 & 11: Cleveland Browns -- Pittsburgh split with its historic rival last season after sweeping them in 2021. The Browns used running back Nick Chubb to outlast the Steelers in their first matchup of the 2022 season. In Week 18, the Steelers exacted a measure of payback while sacking Deshaun Watson (who was suspended during Cleveland's Week 3 win over Pittsburgh) seven times and intercepting him twice. The Browns are expected to air it out more this season with Watson. While that lead to more points, that may not necessarily be a good thing for a Browns team that has had a good deal of success in the past by leaning on Chubb and the running game.
Week 2: Steelers 24, Browns 10
Week 11: Browns 23, Steelers 17
Week 3: at Raiders -- The Raiders' deep receiving corps, led by Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Jakobi Myers, may be too much for Pittsburgh's young secondary at this point in the season. Throw in the fact that the Raiders also have the reigning NFL rushing champion in Josh Jacobs, this has the potential to be the Steelers' first road loss of the 2023. Win or lose, the Steelers will undoubtedly grow from playing a Raiders team that will test team at receiver, running back and edge rushers with Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Score: Raiders 20, Steelers 17
Week 4: at Houston Texans -- Classic rebound game? Think again, as Houston has put together a solid roster for first year head coach DeMeco Ryans. The Texans have put together a roster that has a nice blend of young and veteran players, including rookies C.J Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. and veterans Robert Woods, Devin Singletary, Cory Littleton, and Denzel Perryman, among others. Houston won't be a push over, but this still a very winnable game for the Steelers, who will likely look to take advantage of Stroud's youth and inexperience at the pro level.
Score: Steelers 23, Texans 16
Weeks 5 & 18: Baltimore Ravens -- Pittsburgh is 5-1 against its main rival since the start of the 2020 season. The Steelers are 2-1 all-time against Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, with Jackson's lone win over Pittsburgh taking place back in 2019. Jackson, who recently signed a long-term deal with Baltimore, will have a deeper receiver corps this season than at any previous point in his career, led by tight end Mark Andrews and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman and rookie Zay Flowers.
Week 5: Steelers 19, Ravens 13
Week 18: Steelers 23, Ravens 20
Week 7: at Los Angeles Rams -- Speaking of history, this game will mark the first time the Steelers will face the Rams in Los Angeles since the Rams moved back to Hollywood in 2016. Diehard Steelers fans know that Pittsburgh won its fourth and final title of the 1970s at the Rams' expense in Super Bowl XIV. The current Rams squad is young but boasts a future Hall of Fame player in Pittsburgh native Aaron Donald.
Score: Steelers 30, Rams 20
Week 8: Jacksonville Jaguars -- Several Steelers fans cringed when they saw this team on the schedule. The Jaguars, after all, upset Tomlin's first team in the 2007 playoffs and a decade later handed Pittsburgh one of its all-time worst playoff losses. History aside, this should be a fun matchup between two teams that won nine games last year. The Steelers will have their hands full against Trevor Lawrence, but Jacksonville's defense is no picnic, either, led by linebacker Josh Allen.
Score: Jaguars 20, Steelers 16
Week 9: Tennessee Titans -- It's hard to figure out what type of team the Titans will be in 2023. Mike Vrabel's squad is no doubt going through a transition, but the Titans still have one of the league's best players in running back Derrick Henry. Vrabel has a history of doing more with less, so this game could be an interesting one if the Steelers allow the Titans to hang around.
Score: Steelers 17, Titans 13
Week 10: Green Bay Packers -- Pittsburgh will get its first look at the Packers with Jordan Love under center. Love may not be Aaron Rodgers, but he will have some pretty good weapons to work with next season in running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon; wideouts Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and rookie Jayden Reed; and rookie tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. Defensively, the Packers were stout against the pass last year but were near the bottom of the league against the run.
Score: Steelers 27, Packers 17
Week 12 & 16: Cincinnati Bengals -- The Steelers split last year's season series against Cincinnati after they were broomed by the Bengals in 2021. Rest assured, Pickett will look to test the Bengals' revamped secondary that lost three starters during the offseason, most notably free safety Jessie Bates III. On offense, the Bengals only got better this offseason with the addition of three-time left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
Week 12: Bengals 31, Steelers 24
Week 16: Steelers 24, Bengals 17
Week 13: Arizona Cardinals -- Arizona limped through a 4-13 season a year ago. The Cardinals switched coaches this offseason after hiring former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. This game will be a homecoming for James Conner, a standout at Pitt who was named to his first Pro Bowl as a member of the Steelers. Conner is part of a solid Cardinals offense that also features quarterback Kyler Murray, wideouts Deandre Hopkins, Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, and tight end Zach Ertz.
Score: Steelers 31, Cardinals 24
Week 14: New England Patriots -- On paper, the Steelers have the superior team. But given the Steelers' 4-13 record against Bill Belichick-led Patriots teams, no one in Pittsburgh is crossing this game off as a win. That being said, the Steelers should be able to take care of business this time around after several self-inflicted wounds allowed New England to leave Pittsburgh with a 17-14 win last season.
Score: Steelers 20, Patriots 17
Week 15: at Indianapolis Colts -- Pittsburgh heads back to Indianapolis a year after edging the Colts in the Hoosier State on "Monday Night Football." This will be the Steelers' first look at rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who scored 29 total touchdowns during his final season at Florida. Richardson will look to snap the Steelers' five-game winning streak against the Colts in games played in Indianapolis.
Score: Colts 19, Steelers 16
Week 17: at Seattle Seahawks -- This game has the makings of an old school, smash-mouth style of game between two run-oriented teams. Along with running back Kenneth Walker III, the Seahawks also possess a formidable receiving trio of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Score: Seahawks 28, Steelers 24
Final record: 11-6