The Pittsburgh Steelers have put more money into their defense than any other team in the league after they decided to extend Minkah Fitzpatrick earlier this month.
Now, this season more than ever, the Steelers are going to need their defense to step up. With an offense going through changes and inexperience at its most important position, the defense is going to have to make enough plays to keep the team in a lot of their games this upcoming season.
But the Steelers play some pretty good offenses this season. Will they be able to keep the team in the game each time? Let’s dissect Pittsburgh’s schedule and see which games on the docket will be the hardest for the defense.
Week 1: Steelers at Bengals / Week 11: Bengals at Steelers
Right out of the gate, playing the AFC Champions and an offense that ranked 7th in the NFL in passing offense is a very tough opening game. Everyone might already be writing this game off because of how good the Cincinnati Bengals are and the fact they probably got even better. I wouldn’t.
With this game being the first game of the season and a division rivalry game (leads to lower scoring games), these offenses might not be completely ready to start the season, which may give the Steelers a chance to pull it out. By Week 11, though, that might be a different story.
Week 5: Steelers at Bills
After a few weeks of lackluster offenses in the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, the Steelers defense visit Buffalo to face a behemoth of an offense. Josh Allen will surely be looking to get his revenge on Pittsburgh after the team stole Week 1 last season in Buffalo. The team added Jamison Crowder and OJ Howard to beef up their offensive weapons alongside Gabriel Davis, Stefon Diggs and Dawson Knox, as well as drafted James Cook to potentially be the running back of the future for Buffalo. If the Steelers defense can limit this offense, the sky is the new limit.
Week 6: Buccaneers at Steelers
Tom Brady has had the Steelers number during his entire, long career, and brings an offense into Pittsburgh that is still one of the best. Not having another Steeler killer in Rob Gronkowski will definitely help the defense, but a three-deep receiving core of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell Gage is among the top core’s in the league. The Bucs still have a solid O-line that Leonard Fournette and recently drafted running back Rachaad White can run through. These are brutal back-to-back weeks for the Steelers defense.
Week 7: Steelers at Dolphins
Even though this offense is vastly unproven in so many ways, it is hard to not take any offense that posses players like Tyreek Hill, Mike Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle seriously. Tua Tagovailoa is set up in the best position possible to succeed this season, and Mike McDaniel – who was the offensive coordinator and understudy to Sean McVay in Los Angeles – comes into his first season in Miami with big expectations. They even bolstered their offensive line with the signing of top offensive linemen Terron Armstead, and are now four deep at running back with a crazy RB core of Miles Gaskin, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds and Sony Michel.
Week 12: Steelers at Colts
Out of all of the offenses listed thus far, this one is probably the least dangerous and the best case for which the Steelers defense can stop them. However, Matt Ryan makes this passing game incredibly better compared to Carson Wentz, and the Colts still have the best running game in the league with Jonathan Taylor and a top offensive line. On top of a very underrated receiving core in Michael Pittman Jr., Parris Campbell and former Cincinnati wideout Alec Pierce, the Colts offense should be pretty good next season.
Week 14: Ravens at Steelers / Week 17: Steelers at Ravens
A second straight season that features two late games for the iconic rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens, the Baltimore Ravens made little upgrades to their offense from last season. The main issue for the Ravens was injuries, which could be an issue again by the time they finally meet the Steelers. Lamar Jackson is in a contract year, so expect him to be balling out.
JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Mike Davis round out a very good running back room behind one of the best offensive lines in football that recently upgraded their center position with the selection of Tyler Linderbaum in the 2022 NFL Draft. Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay make a great 1-2 punch in the receiving core.
Week 16: Raiders at Steelers
The Las Vegas Raiders upgraded their receiving core immensely this off-season with the addition of the best receiver in football in Davante Adams to pair with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Derek Carr had his best season of his career last year and will look to build off of that with newly signed head coach and offensive guru, Josh McDaniels. The running back room is three-deep with Josh Jacobs, Zamir White and Kenyan Drake. The offensive line poses the biggest questions for this team heading into the season, which should give the Steelers a huge advantage.
What do you think, #SteelerNation? Which of these offenses scare you the most? Do you think the Steelers defense is good enough to counter a lot of these defenses? Did I miss any offenses that the Steelers are playing that you would consider as good as the ones I listed? Let me know in the comments or @anthonyravasio on Twitter.