The anticipation was palpable as Pittsburgh Steelers fans waited for the official release of the 2016 NFL regular season schedule, and now that the team knows who they’ll face in the upcoming season there is buzz about how teams on that schedule have changed during the offseason ahead of the draft. The regular season schedule was a Twitter trending topic for a time on Friday, leading to speculation and eventual excitement once the release was made public.
In this list, we’ll look at the opponents the Steelers will face in 2016, how their rosters have changed and in-depth information about former meetings between Pittsburgh and these teams. Starting with Week 1 against the Washington Redskins and ending with the Week 16 game with the AFC North Cleveland Browns, this preview will also overview the division itself and what the Steelers can anticipate from their rivals.
Steelers 2016 regular season schedule
Week 1: September 12th – at Washington Redskins – 7:10 p.m
Week 2: September 18th – Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m
Week 3: September 25th – at Philadelphia Eagles – 4:25 p.m
Week 4: October 2nd – Kansas City Chiefs – 8:30 p.m
Week 5: October 9th – New York Jets – 1:00 p.m
Week 6: October 16th – at Miami Dolphins – 1:00 p.m
Week 7: October 23rd – New England Patriots – 4:25 p.m
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: November 6th – at Baltimore Ravens – 1:00 p.m
Week 10: November 13th – Dallas Cowboys – 4:25 p.m
Week 11: November 20th – at Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m
Week 12: November 24th – at Indianapolis Colts – 8:30 p.m
Week 13: December 4th – New York Giants – 4:25 p.m
Week 14: December 11th – at Buffalo Bills – 1:00 p.m
Week 15: December 18th – at Cincinnati Bengals – 8:30 p.m
Week 16: December 25th – Baltimore Ravens – 4:30 p.m
Week 17: January 1st – Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m
(Note: Times may be adjusted during the season by the NFL)
Steelers versus Redskins (Week 1, 2016)
With questions at quarterback, Kirk Cousins replaced Robert Griffin III in 2015. Griffin III has moved on to Cleveland. Cousins, who threw for 4,166 yards and 29 touchdowns on the year, mainly targeted Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon, who combined for 17 touchdowns. During the offseason, the Redskins have so far added:
strong safety David Bruton, Jr., tight end Vernon Davis, defensive end Kendall Reyes and former Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin.
The Redskins appear to be focused on defense in the upcoming 2016 NFL draft and hold the 21st overall pick. Baylor’s Andrew Billings and Mississippi State’s Chris Jones have been mentioned as defensive tackles the Redskins are interested in. Notre Dame outside linebacker Jaylon Smith has also appeared on many mock draft boards.
The two teams have met each other 77 times in regular and post-season play, with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 32 games and the Washington Redskins winning 42 games. They have also tied 3 times.
Steelers vs Bengals (Weeks 2 & 15, 2016))
After tumultuous meetings between these two AFC North rivals in 2015, the Steelers and Bengals look to once again make a run for the top of the division. Although quarterback Andy Dalton battled injuries last season, he managed to complete 255 passes for 3,250 yards and 25 touchdowns. Backup A.J. McCarron completed 79 passes for 854 yards and six touchdowns. Receiver A.J. Green looks to continue to be the go-to guy on offense.
During the offseason, the Bengals have so far added: linebacker Karlos Dansby, safety Taylor Mays and wide receiver Brandon LaFell.
With the 24th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, several mock drafts have Cincinnati looking at Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed, Baylor nose tackle Andrew Billings and TCU receiver Josh Doctson.
These two teams meet each other twice a season (not including the postseason) and have met each other 93 times (including 2 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 58 games and the Cincinnati Bengals winning 35 games. In 2015, the rivals split the regular season meetings and the Steelers won the postseason game, 18-16.
Steelers vs Eagles (Week 3, 2016)
The battle for Pennsylvania heats back up in 2016. The last time the Steelers and Eagles faced off was on October 7, 2012 at Heinz Field (a 16-14 win for Pittsburgh). The two teams have met each other 78 times (including 1 postseason game), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 28 games and the Philadelphia Eagles winning 47 games. They have also tied 3 times.
With new head coach Doug Pederson at the helm, there is a lot of management underway to fix the Eagles roster. The Eagles signed nine free agents this offseason, including safety Rodney McLean, guard Brandon Brooks, quarterback Chase Daniel, linebacker Nigel Bradham, center Steve Wisniewski and receiver Ruben Randle.
With the eighth pick overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, several mock drafts have Philadelphia looking at Ohio State running back Ezekial Elliot, California quarterback Jared Goff or Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin.
Steelers vs Chiefs (Week 4, 2016)
The Steelers went to Arrowhead Stadium in 2015 and lost to the Chiefs by a score of 23-13. The Chiefs went on to have quite a run on the season. The two teams have met each other 31 times (including 1 postseason game), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 20 games and the Kansas City Chiefs winning 11 games.
Quarterback Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin had a good rapport last year, with both players stepping up big for the offense. 6-5, 260 pound tight end Travis Kelce proves to continue to be a big threat on offense.
So far, the Chiefs have added receiver Rod Streater and tackle Mitchell Schwartz during the offseason.
With the 28th overall pick NFL mock drafts have the Chiefs all over the board, but cornerback is the key position. Players they have them selecting are cornerbacks Eli Apple (Ohio State), Artie Burns (Miami) or William Jackson III (Houston). They also have them selecting Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence.
Steelers vs Jets (Week 5, 2016)
The last time the Steelers faced the Jets was at MetLife Stadium on November 9, 2014. Pittsburgh lost by a score of 13-20. The two teams have met each other 24 times (including 2 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 19 games and the New York Jets winning 5 games.
With the quarterback position uncertain at this time, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall look to improve from their 2,529 combined yards receiving in 2015.
The Jets added former Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon, linebacker Bruce Carter, defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and running backs Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson in the offseason.
With the 20th overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft, several mock drafts have the Jets looking at Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland and Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. With the focus appearing to be on defense, Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche has also entered the conversation.
Steelers vs Dolphins (Week 6, 2016)
The Steelers and Dolphins haven’t faced off since December 8, 2013. The Steelers lost by a score of 28-34 in front of their home crowd at Heinz Field. The two teams have met each other 25 times (including 3 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 13 games and the Miami Dolphins winning 12 games.
With Ryan Tannehill claiming the quarterback position after completing 363 passes for 4,208 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2015, he has Jarvis Landry as a nice target. Landry finished the season with 110 receptions for 1,157 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 9.9 yards on kickoff returns – one for a touchdown.
During the offseason thus far, the Dolphins have added defensive end Andre Branch, offensive tackle Jermon Busrod, strong safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, offensive guard Kraig Urbik, defensive end Mario Williams and cornerback Byron Maxwell.
Miami holds the 13th overall pick in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft. Several names have popped up as possible selections, including: Ohio State running back Ezekial Elliott, cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves (Florida) and Eli Apple (Ohio State) and Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson.
Steelers vs Patriots (Week 7, 2016)
There has never been any love lost between the Steelers and Patriots. The last time these two teams met was on September 9, 2015 in a tough loss at Gillette Stadium for Pittsburgh (21-28). The two teams have met each other 28 times (including 4 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 15 games and the New England Patriots winning 13 games.
The Patriots’ key players remain quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Thus far, in the offseason, New England has added the following players: tight end Martellus Bennett, guard Jonathan Cooper, wide receiver Chris Hogan, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, defensive end Chris Long, linebacker Shea McClellin, wide receiver Nate Washington and running back Donald Brown.
With no first round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, little prediction has been made as to who the Patriots may add to bolster their roster.
Steelers vs Colts (Week 12, 2016)
When these two teams met at Heinz Field during the 2015 regular season (December 6), the Steelers handed the Colts a 45-10 loss. The two teams have met each other 28 times (including 5 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 22 games and the Indianapolis Colts winning 6 games.
Keeping quarterback Andrew Luck healthy will be a priority for Indianapolis in 2016. Luck played in just seven games in 2015, completing 162 passes for 1,881 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Running back Frank Gore gave the Colts a ground game as he rumbled for 967 yards and six touchdowns.
Thus far this offseason, the Colts have added quarterback Scott Tolzien, running backs Jordan Todman (formerly with the Steelers), cornerback Patrick Robinson and rusher Robert Turbin.
The Colts hold the 18th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Most mock drafts agree that Indianapolis is looking for an offensive tackle in the first round. Ohio State tackle Taylor Decker and Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin appear at the top of the list. Ohio State outside linebacker Darron Lee has also been mentioned as a potential pick for the Colts.
Steelers vs Ravens (Weeks 9 and 16, 2016)
Meetings between the Steelers and Ravens have traditionally been some of the toughest football games of any given season. In 2015, the Steelers lost both regular season games. The two teams have met each other 44 times (including 4 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 24 games and the Baltimore Ravens winning 20 games.
Although some experts feel he’s lost a step, quarterback Joe Flacco continues to be the top quarterback for Baltimore and completed 266 passes for 2,791 yards and 14 touchdowns on a struggling 2015 roster.
This offseason, the Ravens have added the following players: Safety Eric Weddle, wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Ben Watson.
With the sixth pverall pick in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft, several mock drafts have Baltimore looking at
defensive end with either Deforest Buckner from Oregon or Joey Bosa from Ohio State.
Steelers versus Cowboys (Week 10, 2016)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not faced the former long-term foe Dallas Cowboys since December 16, 2012. Fans are excited about seeing how the two teams match up in 2016. The two teams have met each other 31 times (including 3 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 15 games and the Dallas Cowboys winning 16 games.
While Tony Romo has had up and down seasons in Dallas, Darren McFadden led the way for the Cowboys on the ground with 239 carries for 1,089 yards and three touchdowns in 2015. Tight end Jason Witten had another outstanding season in 2015, leading the team with 77 receptions for 713 yards and three touchdowns.
Offseason additions for the Cowboys include: defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, running back Alfred Morris, defensive end Benson Mayowa and center Joe Looney.
With the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa’s name keeps popping to the forefront. Fellow Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott (running back) has also been a name associated with Dallas’ hopes for the future.
Steelers vs Browns (Weeks 11 and 17, 2016)
The Johnny Manziel era is over in Cleveland, but with the Steelers and Browns meeting twice a year in the ever-contested AFC North, there is bound to be some stiff competition. Pittsburgh swept the series in 2015. The two teams have met each other 128 times (including 2 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 70 games and the Cleveland Browns winning 58 games.
The Browns truly are a team in transition with the addition of Robert Griffin, III, as a newly signed quarterback. Competition in training camp will be stiff as Cleveland looks to solidify a competitive roster. Other offseason additions include: safety Rahim Moore, offensive tackle Alvin Bailey, and linebacker Justin Tuggle.
With the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, many experts expect that the Browns will still go after a quarterback. Carson Wentz from North Dakota State has been the guy many mock drafts have focused on. Mississippi offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil also appears intriguing for Cleveland.
Steelers vs Giants (Week 13, 2016)
The Steelers and Giants have not faced each other since Pittsburgh handed New York a 3-point loss at MetLife Stadium on November 4, 2012. The two teams have met each other 76 times, with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 29 games and the New York Giants winning 44 games. They have also tied 3 times.
Quarterback Eli Manning may still be the go-to guy to run the offense, but in 2015 he did not have the best season of his career. His main target continues to be Odell Beckham, Jr. Victor Cruz is expected to be healthy and return in 2016.
Offseason additions thus far for the Giants include: defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebacker Keenan Robinson.
With the 10th pick overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Giants look to be focused on Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd also appears on many mock drafts.
Steelers vs Bills (Week 14, 2016)
The Steelers and Bills have not been common opponents, facing each other only 24 times (including 3 postseason games), with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 15 games and the Buffalo Bills winning 9 games. The last time the two teams met was on November 10, 2013, and the Steelers handed the Bills a 23-10 loss at Heinz Field.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran the offense for Buffalo in 2015, completing 242 passes for 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns with six interceptions. Receiver Sammy Watkins was the primary target with 60 receptions for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns.
During the offseason thus far, the Bills have added the following players: strong safety Robert Blanton and tight end Jim Dray.
With the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, many experts predict that the Bills will select a defensive tackle. Mississippi’s Robert Nkemdiche, Alabama’s Jarran Reed and Louisville’s Reggie Ragland look to be at the top of the list. Ohio State offensive tackle Taylor Decker has also appeared in many mockups.