(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
With the 2021 NFL schedule release taking place this past Wednesday, each of the ESPN beat writers who cover one of the 32 teams in the league made a prediction for the season. Brooke Pryor, who covers the Steelers, made a bold prediction that the Steelers would lose their final four games of the season.
"The Steelers will go 0-4 to end the season and miss the playoffs in 2021," Pryor wrote. "The team suffered a late-season slump a year ago, losing four of their final five games, including to a woeful Bengals squad. This time around, the Steelers could be facing four juggernauts in Tennessee, Cleveland, Kansas City and Baltimore -- and two of those games are on the road."
As Pryor mentioned, the Steelers collapsed down the stretch last season, losing five of their last six games, including the embarrassing wild-card game loss to the Browns at Heinz Field. They also fell apart late in the year in 2019 and 2018, both of which resulted in missing the playoffs. Losing their last three games of the year in 2019 and losing four of their last six games in 2018.
The Steelers have the toughest schedule in the league in 2021 based on their opponents' combined record of 155-115-2 (.574) in 2020. It includes 10 games against 2020 playoff teams, counting the Browns and Ravens twice. So, they have a tough schedule regardless, but they'll for sure be tested in December and January.
The tough stretch of games begins on Dec 5. against the Ravens, and after that, there's a meeting with the Vikings in Minnesota on a short week on Thursday Night Football. Then the final four games of the season are against teams who all made the playoffs in 2020 -- Titans, at Chiefs, Browns on Monday Night Football, and at Baltimore to finish the regular season against the Ravens.
"It's a tough closing stretch, no question about it, so we have to be ready to get on a roll at the end of the season. That's one of the challenges you just have to be ready to deal with," Steelers president Art Rooney II told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com.