One of the most anticipated days on the NFL calendar has finally arrived, a day Steelers fans anxiously await from the moment the previous season ends.
The Steelers 2021 NFL schedule has been released and it's filled with plenty of primetime excitement as the Steelers play five games under the bright lights this year, after playing four primetime games in 2020.
The five primetime matchups include three at Heinz Field, including two on Monday Night Football. The Steelers will host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football and the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. On the road the team will have two primetime games, playing the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football in SoFi Stadium for the first time and the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football.
For the first time in NFL history teams will have a 17-game schedule after NFL owners voted to expand the season by one game starting with the 2021 season. It's the first time the NFL has expanded the number of games since they went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
With 17 games now on the schedule, the Steelers will play nine regular season games at Heinz Field, with eight games on the road. And they won't be easy games. The Steelers have the NFL's most difficult schedule, with a strength of schedule of .574 based on opponents 2020 records.
-->> Steelers 2021 Schedule
The 2021 NFL schedule will include 15 Super Bowl rematches, including three for the Steelers who will take on the Vikings, a rematch of their Super Bowl IX win, the Seahawks, a rematch of their Super Bowl XL win, and the Green Bay Packers, who they lost to in Super Bowl XLV.
The Steelers open the season on the road against the Buffalo Bills in a Week 1 matchup on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. This will be the seventh straight year the Steelers will open the season on the road, with a 3-2-1 record during that time. It will also be another opportunity for the Edmunds brothers, Terrell, Trey and the Bills' Tremaine to play each other.
The first home game of the regular season will have the Steelers facing the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field, the first meeting between the two teams since 2018. The Steelers will stay home for a Week 3 game at Heinz Field against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 26, also a 1 p.m. kickoff. It will be the first AFC North game for the Steelers, and Bengals' quarterback Joe Burrow, who suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 11 of the 2020 season, is expected to be back on the field.
It will be back on the road briefly for the black and gold, with an NFC meeting against the Packers on Oct. 3 at 4:25 p.m., a nice early season meeting before the 'Frozen Tundra' takes effect.
The Steelers play four of their first six games at Heinz Field, including back-to-back home games against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 10 at 1 p.m. and Seattle on Sunday Night Football on Oct. 17 at 8:20 p.m., that will lead into the team's Week 7 bye week.
Coming out of the bye the Steelers will have a stretch of 11 straight games without a breather, starting in Cleveland on Oct. 31 with a 1 p.m. contest. Another set of back-to-back home games, this time against two NFC North teams, will have the Steelers facing Chicago on Monday Night Football on Nov. 8 with an 8:15 p.m. kickoff time, and Detroit on Nov. 14, a 1 p.m. kickoff at Heinz Field.
Primetime football will return the following week, this time on the road against the Chargers, an 8:20 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 21.
AFC North football will kick into high gear late in the season with four of the final seven games against division teams. That stretch begins at Cincinnati on Nov. 28 at 1 p.m. and continues the following week when the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 5 at Heinz Field for a 4:25 game.
It will be a quick turnaround following the division games with a Thursday night game at Minnesota on Dec. 9 featuring an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.
The stretch run is going to be a tough one, with the Steelers facing four teams who made the 2020 postseason to close out the regular season.
The Tennessee Titans will visit Heinz Field on Dec. 19 at 1 p.m., and then the Steelers will hit the road to take on the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 26 at 4:25 p.m.
The season will close out with two more AFC North games, including a Monday night matchup against Cleveland on Jan. 3 at 8:15 p.m. at Heinz Field. The Steelers finish the season on the road against Baltimore on Jan. 9 at 1 p.m.
With a 17-game regular schedule on tap, the preseason has been decreased by one game, but the Steelers will still have four preseason games because of the Hall of Fame game.
The Steelers will kick off the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Five members of the Steelers organization are being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, including Class of 2020 members Bill Cowher, Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell, and Class of 2021 members Alan Faneca and Bill Nunn, who was already enshrined but will be honored at the ceremony.
The Steelers haven't played in the Hall of Fame game since 2015, the year Jerome Bettis was enshrined. This year will mark the seventh time the team has played in the game, the most appearances by any team, and have a 3-3 record.
The Steelers will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m. on the road and host the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. In what has become a tradition, the Steelers will close out the preseason against the Carolina Panthers on Friday, Aug. 27, marking the 18th consecutive year the two teams will meet in the final week of the preseason after the game was cancelled in 2020.
NFL Flexible Scheduling Policy
"Flexible scheduling" will be used in Weeks 11-17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game in Weeks 11-16 and at least six days notice for Week 17. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights.