With the excitement over the draft and of course the ongoing Ben Roethlisberger drama, I neglected to mention that the Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 schedule has been announced. According to Sports Illustrated, this list of teams is ranked near the bottom (21st) in degree of difficulty. Of course, any sort of predictions based on that information are pretty much worthless. In 2008, the Steelers faced the most difficult schedule in 25 years yet emerged 12-4 and won the Super Bowl. Last year, they enjoyed one of the five easiest schedules but still had a terrible season.
The first thing we need to examine is the early part of the year. Genital Ben is likely to miss at least the first four games so those are going to be pivotal. If the team starts out 0-4 or 1-3, even the return of SuperDick might not be enough to salvage the season. By the way, the past few days of minicamp have seen Byron Leftwich taking snaps with the first team offense so it looks like he’s the early favorite to start those games.
The schedule makers did the Steelers no favors in the early going. Tampa is really the only one I’d say we should win. The other three would be a toss-up even if our regular scumbag quarterback was behind center. Okay, I think Tennesee might be in decline and nobody really knows what to expect from Atlanta but both teams definitely have some talent. And then in week four we have the Ratbirds, who many are putting right behind the Jets as favorites to win the AFC.
Coming off the bye, there are two tune-up games for Big Shady before the Steelers hit the heart of their schedule. Three consecutive national night games against high quality opponents are pretty much going to determine how the season goes. While I don’t think any of them are unstoppable juggernauts, they should all be playoff caliber (if not championship caliber) teams. If the Steelers only manage one win during that stretch, they’ll likely be in trouble down the line.
Honestly, I’d say only the Tampa, Buffalo, and Carolina games are ones where I fully expect a victory. I can’t be confident about any of the others. While I believe the defense should be much better this year, I have a feeling the offense will decline. So even though I said earlier that predictions at this stage are foolhardy, I’m going to make one anyway. Gut feeling, I’m looking at 7-9 season.
Although I hope I’m wrong.
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