Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking Ahead at the 2011 Schedule

With Kansas City's win and clinching of the AFC West this past weekend, the Steelers 2011 schedule is just about set in stone. The only thing now that would change the schedule would be us losing to Cleveland and Baltimore beating Cincinnati.

I know that the 2010 season isn't over yet, but let's, just for a moment, take a brief look ahead to the 2011 season.

For those of you that don't know how the NFL schedule is constructed, here's a brief rundown:
- Play each team in your division, home and away
- Play all 4 teams from 1 other division in your conference, home and away rotates with each cycle
- Play all 4 teams from 1 division in the other conference, home and away rotates with each cycle
- Play the two teams from the remaining divisions in your conference that finished in the same position as you

Now, before we look into the Steelers 2011 Opponents, let's get a few assumptions out of the way first:
1. A CBA is agreed upon and the NFL does not have a lockout in the 2011 season
2. The new CBA does not include an 18-game schedule, but sticks with the same 16-game scheduling format
3. The Steelers beat the Browns on Sunday and win the AFC North.

With these assumptions in place, the Steelers 2011 Opponents will be:
Home: Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Jacksonville, St. Louis, Arizona, New England
Away: Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City

If the Steelers lose to the Browns and the Ravens win the AFC North, the only change will be that the Steelers would play the Jets and the 2nd place team from the AFC West (currently the Chargers, but it could be the Raiders if the Raiders win and Chargers lose on Sunday) instead of New England and Kansas City.

On the surface, getting to play the NFC West in the rotation seems like a great matchup.

But let's consider something: Since 2006, the Steelers are 3-8 when playing outside the Eastern Time Zone

That stat might seem a bit surprising, but when you look back, it's true.
2010: 1-1 outside of EST: Beat Tennessee 19-11, Lost to New Orleans 20-10
2009: 1-2 outside of EST: Lost to Chicago 17-14, Beat Denver 28-10, Lost to Kansas City 23-20
2008: 0-1 outside of EST: Lost to Tennessee 31-14
2007: 1-2 outside of EST: Lost to Arizona 21-14, Lost to Denver 31-28, Beat St. Louis 41-24
2006: 0-2 outside of EST: Lost to San Diego 23-13, Lost to Oakland 20-13

As you can see, and may well remember, we haven't exactly played our best football when we've left the friendly confines of Eastern Time.

Considering that the Steelers are 50-29 (63%) in the regular season since 2006, it's almost more astounding that they are 47-21 (69%) in EST. Add to that the Steelers have been to the playoffs twice, going 3-1, all those games played in EST, including the Super Bowl XLIII win in Tampa.

Obviously, we're not about counting our chickens before they hatch, and we also don't want to be calling fire in a crowded room. But we did find these stats interesting, and as bloggers it's our responsibility to pass them on to our readers.

But for right now, all that matters is Cleveland. Win Sunday, win the AFC North, get the #2 seed, and get ready for the playoffs.


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