Pittsburgh Steelers schedule 2024: Takeaways, predictions

Russell Wilson is expected to make his formal Steelers debut on Sept. 8 in Atlanta. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' 2024 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Wednesday.

Though the season opens Sept. 8, the Steelers won't play in front of their home crowd at Acrisure Stadium until the Week 3 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 22 -- the latest home opener since 2001 when the Steelers waited until Week 4 to host the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 7. Contributing to the late home opener is the Pittsburgh Pirates' schedule. The Pirates, who play down the street from the Steelers, host home series against the Washington Nationals and the Kansas City Royals during the first two weekends of the NFL season.

And while the Steelers have a couple of personal grudge matches for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and quarterback Russell Wilson to start the season with trips to Atlanta and Denver, the first divisional rivalry game doesn't come until the Steelers host the Ravens on Nov. 17 in Week 11.

And, make sure to get your ticket requests into Santa Claus early this year. The Steelers are slated to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day at 1 p.m. in the first NFL game ever streamed by Netflix -- although it will be broadcast on an over-the-air channel in local Pittsburgh and Kansas City markets. The game will mark the third time the Steelers have played on Christmas and first since beating the Houston Texans on the road in 2017.

Here's what else is in store for the Steelers:

  • Week 1: Sept. 8 at Atlanta

  • Week 2: Sept. 15 at Denver

  • Week 3: Sept. 22 vs. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Week 4: Sept. 29 at Indianapolis

  • Week 5: Oct. 6 vs. Dallas

  • Week 6: Oct. 13 at Las Vegas

  • Week 7: Oct. 20 vs. New York Jets (SNF)

  • Week 8: Oct. 28 vs. New York Giants (MNF)

  • Week 9: BYE

  • Week 10: Nov. 10 at Washington

  • Week 11: Nov. 17 vs. Baltimore

  • Week 12: Nov. 21 at Cleveland (TNF)

  • Week 13: Dec. 1 at Cincinnati

  • Week 14: Dec. 8 vs. Cleveland

  • Week 15: Dec. 15 at Philadelphia

  • Week 16: Dec. 21 at Baltimore (Saturday)

  • Week 17: Dec. 25 vs. Kansas City (Wednesday)

  • Week 18: TBD vs. Cincinnati

Strength of schedule: The Steelers have the third-hardest schedule in the league (opponents had a .533 winning percentage in 2023).

Over/under: 8.5 wins

Biggest takeaway

Not only do the Steelers have one of the toughest schedules based purely on opponents' 2023 win percentages, but the back half of the season is especially brutal. The Steelers have all six of their divisional games after the Week 9 bye -- including a stretch of four in a row from Nov. 17-Dec. 8 that includes a Thursday night game in Cleveland coming off a Week 11 game against Baltimore. In fact, the Steelers have short weeks after each of the notoriously physical Ravens games with the second leading into a four-day turnaround before hosting the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on Christmas Day.

Revenge game

There's no better reality show than the NFL, and the league certainly delivers with the Steelers' first two games: at Atlanta and at Denver, setting up revenge games for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and quarterback Russell Wilson, each with an opportunity to visit their old stomping grounds and show their old clubs how much better things are with the new squad.

Then, late in the season the Steelers will travel to Philadelphia in Week 15. Pittsburgh's first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett isn't likely to be the Eagles' starter, but he'll be on the opposite sideline. And the last time the Steelers played in Philadelphia, they were drubbed 35-13 in 2022.

Bold prediction

The Steelers start 4-0. Yes, the Steelers have three of their first four games on the road. And yes, this organization last went 4-0 in the 2020 season. The Steelers have struggled out of the gate in recent seasons, going 2-2 last year and 1-3 in 2022 and 2021, but with a new offensive coordinator, quarterback and offensive line, this group is set up well to get off to a fast start.

The Falcons had just 42 sacks last season, while the Broncos will be in their second game with rookie quarterback Bo Nix. And though the Chargers will still be led by rocket-armed quarterback Justin Herbert, his supporting cast is drastically different than 2021 when he carved up the Steelers for 382 passing yards, three touchdowns and 90 rushing yards. Indianapolis will be a tough out with a healthy Anthony Richardson, Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor, but the addition of Patrick Queen should go a long way to slowing down the Colts' ground attack.