(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Week 17 of the NFL season is already here and that means teams will know who their opponents are for 2021 by late Sunday night. The format for the scheduling process is pretty simple. Along with divisional games that account for six games, each year an AFC team, for example, will play all four teams from another AFC division and will also play all four teams from an NFC division. The divisions rotate every year and the other two opponents are in the conference and are decided by where another team ranks in their division.
Including the Steelers' annual two games a year against each AFC North opponent, the Steelers play the AFC West and the NFC North in 2021. The Steelers won the AFC North in 2020, so they'll face the Buffalo Bills, who won the AFC East this season next year. The AFC South is still up for grabs, so the Steelers will play either the Titans or Colts in 2021.
The Steelers will play the Ravens, Browns, Bengals, Broncos, Bears, Lions, Raiders and Titans/Colts at home in 2021. On the road, they will play the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Packers, Vikings, Chargers and Bills.
By winning the division, the Steelers will play a first-place schedule in 2021 and they'll have tough road games at Kansas City, Buffalo and Green Bay. The Ravens and Browns have both won at least 10 games this year, and the Bengals are an improving team led by Joe Burrow who will have a high draft pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Three other noteworthy things about the 2021 schedule -- the Steelers will play in Minnesota for the first time since 2005. The last time the Steelers were scheduled to be the away team against the Vikings was in 2013, but the game was played in London. The Steelers will also play against the Chargers at the new SoFi Stadium in Southern California in 2021, which opened up this season. The NFL also plans to expand the regular season to 17 games per team in 2021. Each team would play an extra interconference matchup -- AFC vs. NFC -- based on divisional standings from the preceding season and on a rotating divisional basis.