Now that the NFL season is 24 hours away, here is my fearless game-by-game forecast for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Week 1 Sunday, September 9 at Denver 8:20 PM
Ryan Mundy is an adequate replacement for Ryan Clark for one game, but the new sheriff (Peyton Manning) in town takes advantage of the Steelers’ early season injuries and Mike Wallace’s unfamiliarity with the offense.
Denver 24, Pittsburgh 20
Week 2 Sunday, September 16 vs. NY Jets 4:25 PM
Headlines in the New York Post may read “Jets score a touchdown!” but Pittsburgh has too many weapons and too strong a defense to combat Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
Pittsburgh 27, NY Jets 10
Week 3 Sunday, September 23 at Oakland 4:25 PM
For whatever reason, the Steelers have their difficulties when traveling to Oakland. Expect that to stop in this game. Darren McFadden IS the Oakland offense. If Carson Palmer throws often, expect Troy Polamalu to be a recipient.
Pittsburgh 30, Oakland 17
Week 4 BYE
Week 5 Sunday, October 7 vs. Philadelphia 1:00 PM
Expect the dogs on the Steelers sideline to be howling as Michael Vick arrives. This is a tough battle between two perennial playoff contenders. Each team has great weapons at the skill positions and strong pass rushers. At Heinz Field, I go with Pittsburgh (at Lincoln Financial, I would have picked Philly).
Pittsburgh 31, Philadelphia 28
Week 6 Thursday, October 11 at Tennessee 8:20 PM
With a short week to prepare and (hopefully) coming off an important victory, this is a trap game if I’ve ever see one, especially because it’s on the road. Chris Johnson has never broken loose against the Steelers, but he may do so on this occasion.
Tennessee 20, Pittsburgh 10
Week 7 Sunday, October 21 at Cincinnati 8:20 PM
Are the Bengals a team on the rise? In short, no. They have a very talented wide receiver in A.J. Green, but relying on BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a balanced attack will be the downfall of Cincinnati’s 2012 campaign.
Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 16
Week 8 Sunday, October 28 vs. Washington 1:00 PM
The Steelers will welcome Robert Griffin III to the NFL by creating pressure with some exotic blitz patterns and force multiple turnovers. This could be the biggest blowout of the year…aside from when Cleveland comes to town.
Pittsburgh 31, Washington 7
Week 9 Sunday, November 4 at NY Giants 4:25 PM
This is a great mid-season contest with the crème of the crop of the 2004 QB draft class – Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. The Giants’ defensive line is too disruptive and sacks Ben early and often. I foresee a valiant comeback attempt that falls just short.
NY Giants 23, Pittsburgh 17
Week 10 Monday, November 12 vs. Kansas City 8:30 PM
Well, it won’t be Tyler Palko under center for the Chiefs this year and Todd Haley is now the offensive coordinator for the Black and Gold. As long as Pittsburgh doesn’t repeat the nightmare from a few years back allowing kickoff return for a TD, this game isn’t close.
Pittsburgh 24, Kansas City 6
Week 11 Sunday, November 18 vs. Baltimore 8:20 PM
Here’s a date circled on some calendars. Grab the popcorn, sit the kids down (I know it’s a school night…that’s ok, they’ll just be tired tomorrow) and watch an old-fashioned football game with tons of hitting and pure nastiness. As with nearly every recent game in this series, the winner will be decided late and turnovers will have a lot to do with the final outcome.
Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20
Week 12 Sunday, November 25 at Cleveland 1:00 PM
What happened to our former rivals, the Browns? (Besides departing to Baltimore) Cleveland’s return to respectability is still in progress…still. But, Brandon Weedon and Trent Richardson are answers, right?
Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 14
Week 13 Sunday, December 2 at Baltimore 4:25 PM
Only two weeks separate the two regular season meetings against the Ravens. But, this one may feature a return of Terrell Suggs. The sense of desperation could be in the air at M&T Stadium as the Ravens may be fighting for their playoff lives.
Baltimore 19, Pittsburgh 17
Week 14 Sunday, December 9 vs. San Diego 1:00 PM
San Diego does not fare well when playing cold weather games in the eastern time zone. Who can forget the infamous 11-10 Steelers (that should have been 18-10) victory over the Chargers in 2008? Philip Rivers’ weapons keep getting diminished each year – first LaDainian Tomlinson, then Vincent Jackson, and now Antonio Gates is a shadow of himself.
Pittsburgh 20, San Diego 9
Week 15 Sunday, December 16 at Dallas 4:25 PM
Tony Romo, fairly on unfairly, has been labeled as a QB who chokes under pressure. What can’t be disputed is the Cowboys record under Romo in December and January – a dismal 11 wins, 21 losses. This game may be in Dallas, but expect a lot of Terrible Towels waving.
Pittsburgh 26, Dallas 17
Week 16 Sunday, December 23 vs. Cincinnati 1:00 PM
If my previous predictions hold true, this could be a game that puts a stamp on something for Pittsburgh – perhaps clinching a playoff berth, division title, or more, even if Cincinnati is somehow still in the hunt for postseason play.
Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 13
Week 17 Sunday, December 30 vs. Cleveland 1:00 PM
An eerie reminder of what happened in last year’s regular season finale comes to mind. Pittsburgh played all out, despite long odds to improve playoff positioning. Then, Rashard Mendenhall went down with an ACL tear that cost him 8+ months of surgery, rehabilitation, and recovery in an attempt to regain his form as a workhorse-type running back. Pittsburgh could very well be in the same situation and coach Mike Tomlin always wants his guys playing hard.
Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 3
Projected AFC Playoff Teams Projected NFC Playoff Teams
New England Patriots 14-2 Green Bay Packers 13-3
Houston Texans 12-4 San Francisco 49ers 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 Philadelphia Eagles 11-5
Kansas City Chiefs 10-6 Atlanta Falcons 11-5
Baltimore Ravens 10-6 Chicago Bears 10-6
Buffalo Bills 10-6 Seattle Seahawks 10-6
If I had to pick a Super Bowl matchup right now, it would be Green Bay defeating Houston.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.