PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers carry the NFL's toughest strength of schedule into the 2021 season but hope to have some of the same success they had in 2020 this season.
From traveling to Buffalo in Week 1 to finishing off their last four games against opponents who combined for a 47-17 record in 2020, there are no easy stretches for the Steelers. So, what are their expectations?
We'll start with the floor. The Steelers could easily end up with a losing record in 2021, even if it's a hard task for a schedule to accomplish with Mike Tomlin running the show.
Pittsburgh's "guaranteed" wins this season aren't many. The Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos might be the only games the Steelers are heavily favored in.
That puts them at four wins without getting into the 'maybes.' Which are as followed: Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans.
Say they win half of them. The Steelers are currently at six wins.
And finally, the "I don't know, that's a tough one's."
The Steelers have a handful of games that make you say yikes. From the Bills in Week 1 to Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes on the road, nothing will come easy for Pittsburgh this season.
Their hardest games include the Packers, Bills, and Chiefs.
For their floor, they could lose all three of them. And as always, expect a full split with AFC North games, giving them nine wins total.
Of course, everything could get much worse, but realistically, the Steelers could finish 9-8 and have that be their lowest expectation of 2021. On the other hand, their ceiling could land them a division title and a solid spot in the playoffs (if there even is a "solid spot" in the playoffs).
We'll say the Steelers win their automatics, win half of their maybes, and at least one of their hard matchups. Instead of splitting the AFC North, they sweep the Bengals and might sweep either the Browns or Ravens.
Putting them at 11-6, possibly 12-5.
It's hard to imagine both the Browns, Bengals and Ravens finish with a better record.
Don't expect Pittsburgh to walk out of the regular season undefeated, but don't think it's going to be disastrous. The Steelers' floor is high, and their ceiling lands them in the mix for a division title.
How fast they start the season and how many unnecessary losses they take will tell the difference come Week 1.