The Pittsburgh Steelers can only be heading into the 2020 season with Super Bowl aspirations. The team is coming off an 8-8 season that saw a Week 2 injury to superstar quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As a result, the Steelers played the majority of the season with sub-par quarterback play. Both Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges had big shoes to fill but unfortunately were not up to the task. Fortunately for Steelers fans, Big Ben is slated to be back for the 2020 season. With Roethlisberger back at the helm, the Steelers could be a very dangerous team heading into 2020. Based on their opponents’ win percentage from 2019, (.457 win percentage) the Steelers have the second easiest schedule in the NFL. For this article, the Pittsburgh Steelers easiest games of the 2020 season will be analyzed.
Pittsburgh Steelers Easiest Games in 2020
9. Week 2: vs Denver Broncos
Heading into 2020, the Broncos are a much-improved team from this past season. Through off-season additions Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler, the Broncos have one of the most exciting young offenses heading into 2020. The Broncos offense is led by young quarterback Drew Lock, who showed flashes of brilliance during his five starts in 2019. The Steelers host the Broncos in Week 2, and the Steeler defense may be too much for Lock to handle early in the season. Despite their 7-9 record in 2019, the Broncos are a much-improved team and could be a quiet playoff contender in 2020.
10. Week 17: at Cleveland Browns
The final game of the season sees the Steelers travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns. Despite a 6-10 season in 2019, the Browns have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. This talent can only be subdued for so long, as the Browns could break out in a big way in 2020. If they have a solid season, this Week 17 matchup could carry major playoff implications for both teams. The rivalry between these two teams has been renewed after last year’s Myles Garrett incident, which adds to the importance of this game. Week 17 could easily end up being one of the most important games of the year for both teams.
11. Week 1: at New York Giants
Regarding the Steelers season, many questions will be answered in this Monday night matchup against the Giants. How will Ben Roethlisberger look coming off of his injury? Can Juju Smith-Schuster bring back the magic that we saw from him in 2018? Will the defense be able to perform as they did in 2019? While the Giants are steadily improving, they are still in a rebuilding phase. The Giants present a solid challenge for the Steelers in Week 1, yet it is a game the Steelers should win. However, if Big Ben struggles in his first game back since his 2019 injury, this will be a tough game for the Steelers. Steelers fans will be watching this game with bated breath, as they hope Big Ben can perform like his old self, coming off of his injury.
12. Week 3: vs Houston Texans
Week 3 sees the Steelers hosting Deshaun Watson and the Texans. The Texans are coming off of a bizarre off-season, to say the least. The team traded All-Pro wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, to the Arizona Cardinals. In return, the Texans received veteran running back David Johnson. This trade set the Texans fanbase into an outrage, as they saw their fan-favorite receiver sent to Arizona. Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien has been scrutinized by fans and experts alike for this move. O’Brien instantly put himself in hot water heading into 2020 and leaves the Texans team in an odd state.
Fortunately for Texans fans, franchise stars Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt are still with the team, as they hope for a competitive 2020 season. Yet the loss of Deandre Hopkins and the uncertainty around Bill O’Brien could hinder the team greatly. Although as long as Watson is under center, the Texans are no pushover. However, this should be a game the Steelers are expected to win, as the Texans come to Pittsburgh in Week 3.
13. Week 13: vs Washington Redskins
Coming off of an abysmal 2019 season, the Redskins are hoping for a better year in 2020. The Redskins have quietly built one of the most solid defenses in the NFL, particularly in their front seven. The team acquired the menacing defensive end, Chase Young, with the second overall pick in the draft. Young will join an already strong defensive line with the Redskins, making them one of the strongest defensive units in the NFL. The free-agent signing of cornerback Kendall Fuller will help bolster the team’s secondary as well.
While all is great on the defensive side of the ball, the offense leaves some question marks. Much of this uncertainty lies on the shoulders of second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Haskins has shown flashes of brilliance but has issues with consistency that hindered him during his rookie season. If Haskins can perform well, the Redskins will be no joke. By week 13, it should be apparent who this Redskins team is. This is a game the Steelers should win but could have problems with the Skins defense if they are not on their game.
14. Week 10: vs Cincinnati Bengals
The first chapter of Joe Burrow vs Ben Roethlisberger will be written during this Week 13 matchup against the Bengals. A division rivalry, the Steelers have dominated the Bengals in recent years. The Steelers have won the last 10 match-ups against the Bengals, with the last Bengals victory coming in 2015. However, the Bengals are entering into a new era of the franchise, with their first overall selection of quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow enters 2020 with an immense amount of hype. Coming off of his Heisman and National Championship season at LSU, the Bengals believe Burrow is the man to turn their franchise around.
The Bengals are undoubtedly a better team with Joe Burrow, yet this is still a game the Steelers should win. The Steelers are the much better overall team and should be able to slay Burrow and the Bengals in their first matchup of the season.
15. Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers will travel to The Jungle in Week 15, as they take on the Bengals on Monday Night Football. Five weeks after their first matchup, the teams will face once again in one of the closing games of the season. New franchise quarterback Joe Burrow will be expected to lead the Bengals to a better record than last year’s 2-14. However, it is unlikely the Bengals will be competing for a playoff spot in his first season with the team. It is possible that the Bengals will be out of the playoff picture by week 15. So this is a game the Steelers should win.
Although it is possible that the magic of Joe Burrow will give the Bengals a competitive team, there are still too many holes on the roster. T.J. Watt and company will be Bengal hunting on Monday night, as the Steelers look to come home with a win.
16. Week 11: at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Steelers make the trip to Jacksonville in Week 11, to take on the Jaguars. The Jaguars are a franchise that is in a complete rebuilding phase. A team that saw a playoff victory over the Steelers just three seasons ago has been completely turned upside down. Almost every defensive player from that playoff team has now been released or traded, as the team is in full rebuild mode. The likes of Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and more have now left the team, leaving the Jaguars in a rough spot. The Jags will hope for Gardner Minshew to lead them to playoff glory, although very unlikely.
On paper, this is the easiest game on the Steelers schedule. However, this is not a free win for the Steelers. The team has been known to fall into “trap” games, and lose to sub-par teams for over five years now. Assuming the Steelers can negate “Minshew Mania”, they should be able to come out of Jacksonville with a win.