Steelers Playing Two of NFL's 'Most Interesting' Games

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be a part of two of 2024's most interesting NFL games.
Jan 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is tackled
Jan 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is tackled / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH -- The talk around the Steel City for the past week has been about how difficult a draw the Pittsburgh Steelers got with thir 2024 schedule but an underrated and connected part of playing a tough schedule is that it creates some fascinating matchups, especially if the Steelers have made the kinds of improvements many expect from them.

In fact, Sports Illustrated's Connor Orr believes the Steelers will play in two of the 13 'Most Interesting" games of the 2024 NFL season, beginning with a Week 13 trip to Cincinnati - their first AFC North game of the year - and the Christmas Day date with the Kansas City Cheifs at Acrisure Stadium. The Bengals game checked in at No. 11 and the Chiefs game followed close behind as No. 12a.

Orr is particularly interested in how new Steelers starting quarterback Russell Wilson handles the rough and tumble nature of life in the AFC North. He'll be facing some tough defenses and Wilson's game has changed as he's aged. So will he be ready to face a run of six divisional games in nine weeks? It will be interesting to find out.

"By the time this game against Cincinnati is over, the third of four, we will have had a sample size of Wilson against all three of his divisional opponents in a very truncated window," Orr wrote. "To me, it’s unfair to peg his first divisional game as the one to watch, because any quarterback can look like Buddy the Elf at the Jack in the Box station, but by the time he spends an offseason with a Steelers defense, and faces Myles Garrett, Justin Madubuike and Lou Anarumo’s unit at least one time each, we’ll see if he becomes calloused enough to handle the division. The reality is that a hybrid of Wilson’s old style and wishes for himself as a quarterback with a faster release could work in the right scheme if he learns to play against these defenses."

The Chiefs game on a major holiday should provide enough juice of it's own if both teams meet lofty internal expectations. But Orr is particularly interested in how both sides and their experienced, creative coaching staffs handle the new kickoff rules.

"I circled the Chiefs and Steelers even before the league dropped this game onto Christmas Day, because both of these teams made very specific position upgrades this offseason to address the kickoff rule changes," Orr wrote. "Chiefs rookie receiver Xavier Worthy is an electric punt returner who could shine under this format, and the Steelers added Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Fields, both of whom could factor into the return game. The Chiefs’ Dave Toub is one of the best and longest-tenured special teams coaches in the NFL, and if anyone is going to have a leg up on the rule changes, it’s him."

Who knows how the Steelers' 2024 season will play out or if they'll achieve the repeatedly-stated goal of advancing further in the playoffs than they have in recent years. But one thing is for certain - their path won't be boring.

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Stephen Thompson


Stephen Thompson graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications and political science from Pitt in April 2022 after spending four years as a sports writer and editor at The Pitt News, the University of Pittsburgh's independent, student-run newspaper. He primarily worked the Pitt men's basketball beat, and filled in on coverage of football, volleyball, softball, gymnastics and lacrosse, in addition to other sports as needed. His work at The Pitt News has won awards from the Pennsylvania News Media Association and Associated College Press. During the spring and summer of 2021, Stephen interned for Pittsburgh Sports Now, covering baseball in western Pennsylvania. Hailing from Washington D.C., family ties have cultivated a love of Boston's professional teams and Pitt athletics, and a fascination with sports in general.