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Pittsburgh Steelers: 2019 game-by-game projections

NFL
Photo Credit: Getty Images

As the 2019 NFL season approaches, the Steelers schedule appears to feature a fair amount of difficulty on the road to a Lombardi Trophy. This year’s version integrates the usual fiery division matchups and a quartet of challenges in the AFC East. The competition to get back to the playoffs will be as challenging as ever and the start of the season promises to be as grueling as ever. Below I will continue the AFC North projections by diving into each game for the upcoming Steelers’ season.

Week 1 @ New England Patriots

The Steelers begin their 2019 season in a heavyweight matchup against the 2018 Super Bowl winners. The Patriots have been an arch-nemesis of the team in recent years, and this matchup has annually been a battle of the AFC’s top teams. The Steelers bested the Patriots for the first time last season since 2014, as mentioned before. As always, the game will come down to the play of the two veteran quarterbacks. Brady should have the edge at home in this opening game.

Expected Result: Loss

Week 2 vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks looked like a team entering a rebuilding phase as the 2018 season began. However, Russell Wilson seemingly put the team on his back and led the team to an NFC Wild Card berth. The Steelers will be facing a tough challenge against this upstarted Seahawks team. Seattle ran the ball exceptionally well last season and the Steelers improving front seven will need to step up in a big way. Rookie Devin Bush will have an early opportunity to prove himself as a young leader in the middle of this defense.

Expected Result: Win

Week 3 @ San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco traded for former Patriots’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo before the 2018 season, which provided the fan base much-needed excitement. Their hopes and dreams were dashed early in 2018, as their quarterback tore his ACL. Garoppolo is back for this offense that will feature breakout tight end George Kittle and a host of young, talented receiving options. In the end, Pittsburgh’s passing attack should have the edge here and will be too much to handle for San Francisco’s young and inexperienced secondary.

Expected Result: Win

Week 4 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The battle for the AFC North begins against the Bengals. The Steelers have had an intense rivalry with this team during the regular season, and it has even extended into the playoffs in recent years. Emotions will be high in this one, as new head coach Zac Taylor gets his first taste of this battle in the Steel City. A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, and Andy Dalton are a formidable trio on offense, while guys like John Ross and Tyler Boyd are up-and-comers in this league. Homefield advantage should play a significant role in the outcome of this game.

Expected Result: Win

Week 5 vs. Baltimore Ravens

For the second week in a row, the Steelers will battle an AFC North foe, and that happens to be the mighty Ravens next up. This matchup marks the first official meeting between the young Lamar Jackson and the veteran Roethlisberger. Jackson was sensational after taking over for Joe Flacco and leading the Ravens to the playoffs last season. He adds a new wrinkle to this brutal, hard-hitting rivalry and this one figures to go down to the wire. However, I’m leaning on the veteran quarterback to win.

Expected Result: Win

Week 6 @ Los Angeles Chargers

Since being drafted together in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Phillip Rivers and Big Ben have been two of the more successful quarterbacks in the league. The two future Hall-of-Famers will face off in week six and will lead two of the best offenses in the AFC. The Chargers also feature one of the top young secondaries in the league, led by standout 2018 rookie Derwin James. Combine the great play of their secondary with one of the best pass rush duos in the league, and the Chargers will prove a very tough road trip for the Steelers.

Expected Result: Loss

Week 8 vs. Miami Dolphins

Pittsburgh returns from their bye to face off at home against a young Miami Dolphins team with new coach Brian Flores. The uncertainty at quarterback for the Dolphins could cast a gray cloud over their 2019 season outlook. There is young talent on both sides of the ball for Miami, but not having a real leader at quarterback like Roethlisberger could be the difference in the outcome of this game.

Expected Result: Win

Week 9 vs. Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck is one of the young stars in the league at quarterback and is one of the better players Pittsburgh will face this season. There will be a ton of fireworks in this game, and it figures to be one of the higher-scoring AFC affairs in 2019. Colts’ tight end Eric Ebron had a breakout 2018 season and will test the Steelers’ young secondary as well as the rookie linebacker Bush.

Expected Result: Win

Week 10 vs. Los Angeles Rams

Speaking of fireworks, the week ten matchup between Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Rams should be on the shortlist of games to watch in 2019. As I predicted in May, the Steelers and Rams should light up the scoreboard. The quarterback matchup between Roethlisberger and Jared Goff will produce plenty of points and should provide the fans plenty of excitement in Pittsburgh. With the talent on both sides, this shootout could be a potential Super Bowl preview. The cold in Pittsburgh will freeze this west coast powerhouse.

Expected Result: Win

Week 11 @ Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh’s first meeting with the new-look, rival Cleveland Browns comes late in the season. I’ve pointed to this game as a pivotal matchup, and that is no surprise when looking at the landscape of the division and the AFC overall. The Browns have added Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and appear to be a team on the rise. They will be a great challenge and may prove to be too much in the confines of the Dawg Pound.

Expected Result: Loss

Week 12 @ Cincinnati Bengals

The second meeting between the Steelers and the Bengals comes as teams are beginning to posture for playoff positioning. In the grueling AFC North, this game could have significant implications for both squads. A key in-game matchup to watch is rising corner William Jackson vs. star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both players are quickly ascending to the top of their respective position ranks and will be intriguing to behold for years to come.

Expected Result: Win

Week 13 vs. Cleveland Browns

Back to back weeks against division rivals will test the Steelers’ mental state, and payback could be in store against the Browns. I predicted Cleveland to beat Pittsburgh earlier this season, but the outcome will be different in the Steel City. Baker Mayfield went 2-5 in road games last year, so he still learning how to win away from home. This contest will likely be his toughest test and could determine the AFC North as well as a playoff berth.

Expected Result: Win

Week 14 @ Arizona Cardinals

Rookie Kyler Murray will be only 22 years old at the start of the 2019 season. The new Cardinals’ starter was only seven years old when Big Ben entered the league in 2004. With that said, the Steelers’ number seven has won two Super Bowls in that time, one against Murray’s Cardinals back in 2009. This battle will be a real test of young versus old, especially as the Cardinals also break in new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Arizona will be at home, but that is where the advantages end for them.

Expected Result: Win

Week 15 vs. Buffalo Bills

Speaking of young quarterbacks, the Bills have a budding star of their own in second-year man Josh Allen. Buffalo’s young signal-caller is a mobile threat with a big arm that showed flashes of brilliance last season and also significant areas of concern. I expect him to take a modest leap forward in 2019, and he could learn quite a bit from Roethlisberger, who shared a similar profile coming out of Miami (Ohio). The Bills have a tough defense, but I expect the Steelers to find a way to overcome and win at home.

Expected Result: Win

Week 16 @ New York Jets

The Steelers’ 2019 schedule is littered with young quarterbacks and improving rosters. That is the case again as Pittsburgh travels to New York. Sam Darnold had an up-and-down rookie season but should show improvement with a year of experience under his belt. Another reason for optimism in New York is due to former Steelers’ starter Le’Veon Bell. Former Redskin Jamison Crowder was also brought in to help the offense. This meeting in a likely frigid atmosphere appears to be a trap game. And it could prove difficult for Pittsburgh to overcome, especially with any significant injuries.

Expected Result: Loss

Week 17 @ Baltimore Ravens

Another game I previously mentioned as a pivotal matchup is the Steelers’ battle with Baltimore in the season finale. The Steelers have a chance to avenge the 2018 season against the Ravens. Baltimore’s win against Cleveland last season eliminated Pittsburgh from playoff contention. The additions of Mark Ingram and Marquise Brown provide the Ravens with the needed offensive firepower at home to overcome the rival Steelers to end the season.

Expected Result: Loss

Final Record: 11-5

Analysis

There will be some ups and downs for the Steelers while facing a rigid 2019 schedule. And while the final record prediction appears optimistic on the surface, it is not unjustified. Pittsburgh has a boatload of talent on offense and some real star power. Combine that with an improving defense, and there is a real possibility that the team could find themselves back in the AFC Championship for the first time since 2016. If they can win the majority of home games, as predicted, there is a good reason for optimism for the Steelers’ 2019 season.

Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can follow him @sgormanPFN on Twitter. Join Pro Football Network today for just $30/year and receive exclusive access to content related to fantasy football, sports betting, NFL analytics, and more.

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