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A Letter From the Editor: The “Us vs. the World” 2024 Steelers

If you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who as alive for the tremendous 2008-2009 run to Super Bowl 43, you remember the daunting task which awaited that team at seemingly every step. It seemed week after week the team would be facing another tall task in terms of a top tier opponent on the schedule.

It was this season when you heard the following slogan become a rallying cry for the team:

“It’s a 5-Star matchup because we’re in it!”

I’ll never forget hearing James Farrior screaming that before yet another prime time game vs. a team who was expected to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. In fact, just writing about that team made me look back on that season and re-live some of that season, which had plenty of peaks and valleys along the way.

The Steelers had a Week 6 bye, and prior to the bye they played two divisional games, at Cleveland and vs. Baltimore, the Eagles, a loss, and the Jaguars at home. If that wasn’t enough, the team still had games vs. the Manning brothers in the Giants and Colts both coming to Pittsburgh. Games against Philip Rivers and the Chargers and the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots were also on the docket. Throw in the Dallas Cowboys, Titans and the remainder of their AFC North schedule and it was quite the daunting task.

In case you forgot, the Steelers finished that season 12-4 on the backs of their unbelievable defense.

I’m sure many of you are wondering what this dose of nostalgia has to do with the current team, but the fact the 2024 schedule seems to be every bit as daunting as that slate of games in 2008, maybe worse, you see plenty of similarities between the two schedules.

This upcoming season the Steelers are going to have to adopt the same mentality of that 2008 iteration of the black-and-gold.

It’s “Us vs. the World”.

If they want to add some “The NFL is against us” personality for some extra mojo, I don’t feel as if it could hurt when you look at the slate of games awaiting the team.

However, as I said in a previous article this week about the schedule release:

“We all love to overreact, and the Steelers absolutely have a difficult schedule ahead of them. But, again, we knew this well before the schedule was officially released. When people look at the schedule on paper, there are so many factors which aren’t included. For instance, most Strength of Schedule (SOS) metrics are based on 2023 win percentage. This makes sense, but it also should be noted how teams change year after year. Injuries happen, and that completely changes the trajectory of the schedule. Using 2023 as an example, when fans saw the two Cincinnati Bengals games on the schedule, they assumed Joe Burrow would be under center. We all know that wasn’t the case. The same could be said about the New York Jets and their ridiculous number of prime time games which were without Aaron Rodgers after his ruptured Achilles tendon in Week 1.

“Suddenly, stretches which you thought were a murderer’s row soften up significantly.”

When you look back on that storied 2008 season, I mentioned how when the Steelers went into Foxborough and beat the snot out of the Patriots, it wasn’t against Tom Brady. It was against Matt Cassel. That was the season when Brady was lost for the season due to a low hit on his knee in the early weeks of the regular season. In other words, one hit or injury can completely alter the rest of the season. Another example? The 2023 New York Jets where Aaron Rodgers was lost for the season in Week 1 with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Regardless of potential changes in opposing rosters, the Steelers will have to be prepared for this difficult schedule. The “soft spots” on the schedule aren’t nearly as soft as previous years, and it will take a tremendous coaching year, some luck, and good health if they want to duplicate the success of their 2008 brethren.

Let’s hope the “Us vs. the World” Steelers return in 2024, and they rise to the challenge of a daunting schedule. After all, it’s a “5 star matchup…because they’re in it!”


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