Steelers’ likeliest loss on the road to 16-0

If the Pittsburgh Steelers lose a game this season, here is when it could happen.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are feeling 16-0, but they could end up slipping at some point.

Getting to 9-0 through the first 10 weeks of the 2020 NFL season was a huge accomplishment for the Steelers franchise. This is the furthest Pittsburgh has started a season without suffering a single loss. By not having to play the Kansas City Chiefs or any major NFC contenders this fall, Pittsburgh might have what it takes to achieve perfection. But where are the potential roadblocks?

Where could the Steelers stumble in their remaining regular-season games?

Steelers’ remaining 2020 NFL season schedule
  • Nov. 22: at Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Nov. 26: vs. Baltimore Ravens
  • Dec. 6: vs. Washington Football Team
  • Dec. 13: at Buffalo Bills
  • Dec. 21: at Cincinnati Bengals
  • Dec. 27: vs. Indianapolis Colts
  • Jan. 3: at Cleveland Browns

Though all the of Steelers’ remaining games are certainly winnable, they could also just as easily drop any of these games. Pittsburgh is notorious for playing down to the level of competition under head coach Mike Tomlin. For an emotionally-charged team led by a defensive-minded head coach, would you expect anything less? What games are the biggest challenges going forward?

On paper, there are three games it would be shocking to see the Steelers drop: At the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, vs. the Washington Football Team on Dec. 6 in Week 13 and at the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 21 in Week 15. A loss to any of those teams would be a huge upset and would not be a loss the Steelers organization can be proud of. As for the other four, let’s look at those now.

The least likely of the four remaining is the home date vs. the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 27 in Week 16. This could be a game where the Steelers could clinch home-field advantage in the AFC en route to 15-0. With the Colts being a playoff contender in the AFC South, do not think Tomlin’s team will put forth an uninspired effort with potentially so much on the line.

The third most likely loss coming for the Steelers would be at regular-season’s end on Jan. 3 at the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. There are a few reasons for this. One, the Steelers may rest starters and mail it in with home-field advantage already locked up. Two, this is a division rivalry game after all. And three, the Browns might be fighting for their lives to make the playoff field.

After that, you could really go either way with the Steelers’ two toughest remaining games: Home vs. the arch rival Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving Night in Week 12 and at the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 13 in Week 14. Baltimore may want revenge, but the Pittsburgh defense might be in Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s head. Regardless, Baltimore will play its arch rival tough in Week 12.

And that leaves us with the most likely trip-up spot for the Steelers this year: at Buffalo. Like the Steelers, the Bills have playoff seeding on their mind. Buffalo has not won a division crown since Jim Kelly played quarterback for them back in 1996. The Bills may not be favored to come out of the AFC, but they can get to the AFC title bout this season. Add in the weather, and there you go.

So when are the Steelers slipping up? Will they slip up? They might or they might not. The last seven games for them are not easy, but no game is easy in the NFL these days. While Pittsburgh could just as easily lose to Jacksonville as it could to Indianapolis, the two games to watch out for are at Buffalo in Week 14 and home vs. Baltimore on Thanksgiving night in Week 14 in that order.

The Bills and the Ravens are the two likeliest teams to hand the Steelers a rare loss this season.