The biggest question surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers this season obviously revolves around how they will play early on during QB Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension. Even though there is a chance that Roethlisberger’s suspension could get reduced to four games, Pittsburgh will ultimately need to decide whether veteran Byron Leftwich or youngster Dennis Dixon will take the reins heading into the season and navigate the team through the first part of the schedule.
Odds to win AFC North Division: +225
Odds to win the AFC Conference: 11/1
Pittsburgh Steelers Odds to win Super Bowl XLV: 20/1
Regular Season Wins Total Line: 9
*all odds quoted from Bodog*
Here’s a look at Pittsburgh’s complete schedule with and without Big Ben:
Week 1 Sunday, September 12, 2010 vs. Atlanta Falcons
Analysis: The marquee QB matchup will be missed here as Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is the bigger name looking to break through as one of the NFL’s best signal callers in just his third year.
Week 2 Sunday, September 19, 2010 @ Tennessee Titans
Analysis: The Titans will be playing the second of two winnable home games to open the season before playing three of their next four games on the road.
Week 3 Sunday, September 26, 2010 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: This could be the first time Pittsburgh is favored, although you can bet Tampa Bay will be fired up and confident after playing Cleveland and Carolina the first two weeks.
Week 4 Sunday, October 3, 2010 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Roethlisberger won’t mind missing this game against the physical Ravens but hopes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will allow him to play after the bye week.
Week 5 — BYE WEEK —
Week 6 Sunday, October 17, 2010 vs. Cleveland Browns
Analysis: Of the first five games of the season for the Steelers, this certainly looks like the best chance for an easy win, but they must then play their next three games on the road.
Week 7 Sunday, October 24, 2010 @ Miami Dolphins
Analysis: Pittsburgh will certainly need Big Ben at this point despite the fact that he led the team to a 3-5 road record last season.
Week 8 Sunday, October 31, 2010 @ New Orleans Saints
Analysis: If Roethlisberger wasn’t in the spotlight in his first game of the season, he won’t have a choice now as the Steelers play the first of three straight prime-time TV games against the defending Super Bowl champions.
Week 9 Monday, November 8, 2010 @ Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: Perhaps the biggest game of the season for Pittsburgh playing on Monday Night Football against a divisional rival featuring Chad Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens.
Week 10 Sunday, November 14, 2010 vs. New England Patriots
Analysis: The Patriots will be hosting the Colts the following week at home on short rest, but these are the types of games New England head coach Bill Belichick loves to prepare for.
Week 11 Sunday, November 21, 2010 vs. Oakland Raiders
Analysis: The Steelers finally get a bit of a break after a rough stretch, but they suffered a surprising 27-24 loss at home to Oakland last year in a similar spot toward the end of a five-game skid.
Week 12 Sunday, November 28, 2010 @ Buffalo Bills
Analysis: The Bills host Pittsburgh in the middle of tough road games at Cincinnati and Minnesota and hope they can turn this into more of a defensive battle.
Week 13 Sunday, December 5, 2010 @ Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Roethlisberger will face a very raucous crowd in Baltimore but will be lucky he didn’t have to face this Ravens defense twice.
Week 14 Sunday, December 12, 2010 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: The Steelers begin a string of three straight home games, although the first two will be against playoff teams that will likely need to win this game to get to the postseason again.
Week 15 Sunday, December 19, 2010 vs. New York Jets
Analysis: Jets QB Mark Sanchez will make his first trip to Pittsburgh and have former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes to unleash on his old team.
Week 16 Thursday, December 23, 2010 vs. Carolina Panthers
Analysis: The Steelers will be playing their home finale on prime-time TV and hope they will still have a shot at the playoffs.
Week 17 Sunday, January 2, 2011 @ Cleveland Browns
Analysis: Few teams have a more difficult schedule to end the season than the Browns, who must play three straight road games (at Miami, Buffalo and Cincinnati) before hosting the Ravens and Steelers.