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Surprise Good and Bad Teams on the Steelers 2024 Schedule

The 2024 NFL Schedule is here, and the league once again flexed it’s superiority in the sporting world, drawing the attention of millions of fans to their team’s matchups for the 2024 Season.

We already knew that the Pittsburgh Steelers owned the league’s most difficult slate of opponents based on both their 2023 records and 2024 projected win totals, and still the schedule-makers did the Black and Gold no favors in arranging the matchups to mitigate the sting of such a daunting lineup.

The thing about strength of schedule, though, is that it’s pure projection, no matter which way you slice it. Injuries, roster turnover, and coaching changes create a whirlwind of unpredictability that could significantly alter the way we view the actual 2024 strength of schedule once the games are played.

Translation: there are always teams who outplay expectations, and there are always teams who underperform compared to their offseason aspirations.

In that spirit, I wanted to take a look at some of the Steelers 2024 opponents who could surprise us this season and either be much better than projected, or conversely, much worse when all is said and done.

Note: All projected win totals are pulled from the BetMGM Sportsbook lines.


Week 2 @ Denver Broncos | Sep. 15 @ 4:25PM on CBS | Proj. Wins: 5.5

There’s a lot of uncertainty around the Broncos after a disappointing 2023 season left them without a QB and a lot of questions on both sides of the ball heading into the offseason. Sean Payton’s squad has done a fine job adding potential starters in the Draft, including QB Bo Nix with the 12th overall pick.

Sean Payton’s offense is well-suited for Nix’s skillset, and the former Oregon Duck has plenty of experience and smarts to master the offense quickly, and he boasts better physical traits than he’s often given credit for. The addition of Nix’s former teammate at Oregon, WR Troy Franklin, was a master stroke by the Broncos to ease the transition and give stud wideout Courtland Sutton an explosive plus-one on the outside.

The defense still has some good pieces, highlighted by maybe the best CB in football in Patrick Surtain. While they ranked a paltry 25th in EPA/play last season, I wouldn’t be surprised if that unit makes a significant rebound in 2024 under the guidance of DC Vance Joseph.

In all, the Broncos could be much scrappier this season than their projection would indicate. I expect a tough matchup for the Steelers in Week 2 in one of the toughest road venues in football.

Week 6 @ Las Vegas Raiders | Oct. 13 @ 4:25PM on FOX | Proj. Wins: 6.5

The Raiders have a ton of quality weapons on offense, a solid OL, and should field a fiesty defense lead by their front four with top Free Agent acquisition Christian Wilkins joining All-Pro pass rusher Maxx Crosby. That unit alone will cause enough havoc to keep the Raiders in games.

2nd-year pro Aiden O’Connell and newly acquired veteran passer Gardner Minshew figure to compete for the starting gig in Training Camp, but neither QB strikes fear into their opponents. Still, with solid QB play, this team has an opportunity to be competitive week in and week out, even if they don’t have the horses to really hang with the “big dogs” in the AFC.

The Steelers have historically struggled as the road team against the Raiders, so fans of the Black and Gold would be foolish to just chalk this contest up as an easy win in 2024.

Week 10 @ Washington Commanders | Nov. 10 @ 1:00PM on CBS | Proj. Wins: 6.5

The Commanders quietly have a nice set of weapons on offense, lead by WR Terry McLaurin and RBs Austin Ekeler and Brian Robinson for their dynamic 2nd-overall pick at QB to work with. Jayden Daniels has a ton of upside both as a runner and as a passer, and though it may take time for him to learn how to play in the NFL, his experience and upside should make him a dangerous playmaker early in his career.

The defense should also be drastically improved in year 1 under new HC Dan Quinn, whose reputation for fielding top-level defenses is quite impressive. If the young secondary can come together and the front 7 takes a step forward under the leadership of veteran LB Bobby Wagner and 2nd-Round Draft pick Jer’Zhan Newton, the Commanders have a solid enough roster to hit the over on their 6.5 projected wins.


Week 3 vs. Los Angeles Chargers | Sep. 22 @ 1:00PM on CBS | Proj. Wins: 8.5

The Chargers have a new Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and Defensive Coordinator heading into 2024, and the roster has some serious holes on both sides of the ball. Yes, that new HC is Jim Harbaugh, but there are just too many concerns on this team for them to be taken as a serious playoff contender in the AFC this season.

QB Justin Herbert is returning healthy, but he lost his 2 best weapons (when they were available, that is) in Keenan Allen (Bears) and Mike Williams (Jets), and the team basically called up all the Ravens’ backup RBs to come in and compete for OC Gregg Roman in what will likely be a run-first attack for the Chargers.

On defense, the stars cannot be counted on to stay healthy, and there are a lot of holes in the secondary and on the interior of the DL.

I liked the Chargers draft class, and Harbaugh is a major upgrade at HC for the Bolts. I just don’t see this squad being able to overcome all their issues in just one offseason. They’re a year or 2 away from being a team to count on finishing above .500.

Week 5 vs. Dallas Cowboys | Oct. 6 @ 8:20PM on NBC | Proj. Wins: 10.5

The Cowboys offseason hasn’t been flashy. In fact, it’s been rather dull. The Cowboys rank 31st in total cash spending this offseason, and they’ve neglected to address the large, looming contracts for their stars like Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, and Micah Parsons. This feels like a team ready for a reset, despite the fact that they appear on paper to be loaded on both sides of the ball.

The ‘Boys appear to be rolling into the season with relic Ezekiel Elliott as their RB1, an unproven rookie at RT in 1st-Round pick Tyler Guyton, and a defense that just lost one of the best coordinators in the game in Dan Quinn.

The vibes just aren’t great around the Cowboys this offseason, and a let-down season seems more likely than not based on the strange notes coming out of Jerry-world.

Week 17 vs. Kansas City Chiefs | Dec. 25 @ 1:00PM on Netflix (Christmas) | Proj. Wins: 11.5

Hear me out on this one. I still believe the Chiefs will be a good team in 2024. I’m just not sold that they did enough on both sides of the ball to mitigate their losses and improve the team around Patrick Mahomes.

On defense, the Chiefs lost maybe the league’s best CB in La’Jarius Sneed to the Titans, and one of their athletic leaders in the middle of the field in LB Willie Gay, Jr. Chris Jones will be 30 this season, and KC needs it’s recent draft picks on that side of the ball to really step up in a big way in 2024. They still have one of the league’s most innovative DCs in Steve Spagnuolo, but some of these losses are pretty big deals for the 2x defending Champs.

On offense, the Rashee Rice saga rolls along without a clear end result in site. Meanwhile, the Chiefs added 2 of the smallest receivers in football in Marquise Brown and 1st Round pick Xavier Worthy in an attempt to improve the pass catching corps around TE Travis Kelce, who is also aging (34) and maybe showing it a little more than Jones. I have concerns about this group, even with the presence of Mahomes covering for a lot of deficiencies.

Ironically, it’s extremely hard to maintain a championship-caliber roster when you’re winning championships, and there’s a reason no team has ever won 3 Super Bowl’s in a row. I think there’s a chance Kansas City takes a little bit of a step back in 2024, and they may not appear to be the unbeatable juggernaut they do now when the Steelers welcome them into their house for Christmas this December.

Are there any teams I missed for either category? Anyone who made these lists that shouldn’t have? Hit me up in the comments below, and stay tuned to the Steel Curtain Network for all things Pittsburgh Steelers.


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