What teams have the Steelers had the most success in their history and how will that effect 2019?
The Steelers have been in action since 1933 and have been a highly successful franchise in the league since the 1970s. The first 39 years, the Steelers were ridiculously bad. In that time frame, the team went 173-280-19 for a .366 clip and only six winning seasons. Since 1972, the Steelers have had 36 winning seasons, with only four .500 years and seven losing campaigns (1985, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2003). Their winning percentage over that span was .622 after a record of 455-274-3 since 1973. Overall, the Steelers are a .608 team with a 628-554-22 mark in their history.
Over time the Steelers have had teams that they’ve played well against and teams that they’ve fallen to more often than not on the field and in the record books. Of the current other 31 teams in the NFL, the Steelers have a winning record over. Against three others (New England 16-16, Seattle 9-9 and Minnesota 9-9), they carry identical wins and losses. That will change, as the Steelers play both the Pats and Seahawks in Weeks One and Two of 2019 respectively.
Here are the franchises that the Steelers fared best against in their 86 year history.
Carolina Panthers (6-1 .857)
After losing a Week 17 contest in 1996 against the second-year Panthers, the Steelers have gone undefeated in regular season play and 3-0 in the Mike Tomlin era. The Steelers won’t see the Panthers again until 2022 in Charlotte.
Atlanta Falcons (14-2-1 .853)
It’s always nice to see the “Dirty Birds on the schedule”. The Steelers have owned Atlanta since their first meeting in 1966. It hasn’t been too easy in recent years though. In three straight games from 2002 to 2010, these two squads had to settle games in overtime. The 2002 shootout between Tommy Maddox and Michael Vick ended in a tie, Vick vanquished the Steelers in OT in 2006 and Rashard Mendenhall’s 50-yard run iced it in 2010’s extra frame. The Steelers are 3-0 against the ATL under Coach T. Pittsburgh visits Atlanta again in 2022.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-2 .818)
Tampa Bay is another team the Steelers delight in seeing whether as creamsicles or in pewter. Since 1976, the Bucs only have defeated the Steelers twice, once in 1998 and also in 2014. The teams came close to meeting in Super Bowl XIV, but TB fell to the Rams in the NFC Championship. Mike Tomlin has a 2-1 tally against Tampa and isn’t expected to coach against Tampa until 2022 at home.
Indianapolis Colts (24-6 .800)
Whether in B-More or Indy, the “Men of Steel” have virtually owned the Colts. Two of the wins were epic playoff victories in the 1995 AFC Championship and the 2005 Divisional Round games. The Steelers have won five straight and Mike Tomlin is 5-1 vs. the Colts. Week 9 will feature Indy traveling to Pittsburgh.
New York Jets (20-5 .800)
Pittsburgh has always had the number of New York’s AFC franchise going 20-5 in their history. But the J-E-T-S…Jets,Jets,Jets have won three of their last seven during the Mike Tomlin years. These teams battle at Met Life on MNF in Week 16 with Le’Veon Bell sporting the green uni.
Los Angeles Chargers (23-10 .697)
The Steelers and Chargers have had good teams and fantastic battles over the years, but Pittsburgh has had much better fortune in this series going 14-5 since 1989 and 4-2 in Tomlin’s tenure. The Steelers visit Los Angeles for the first time in 25 years in Week 6.
Houston Texans (4-2 .667)
The Texans won the inaugural matchup between these two teams in 2002 by the score of 24-6, but the Steelers defense did not surrender any of the Texan’s three TDs. Since then, the Steelers have won four of five. Mike Tomlin has gone 3-1 vs this team. The Watt brothers are expected to square off again in 2020.
Kansas City Chiefs (23-12 .657)
The Steelers seem to have frustrated the Chiefs as of late. Even though Pat Mahomes and KC have current bragging rights from their Week 2 win in 2018, the boys from “the Burgh” have captured six of the past eight from the Chiefs. Although they could play earlier, it looks like 2021 is the next turn in the rotation for these two.
Cincinnati Bengals (64-35 .646)
While this was typically a game that Steeler Nation had been very apprehensive about because of thuggish behavior resulting in unnecessary injury at times, eight straight wins against a division rival is fantastic. Mike Tomlin’s record is an astounding 20-5 against his rival from the Queen City. As always, Pittsburgh will see Cincy twice this season on MNF during Week 4 and on the road in Week 12.
Buffalo Bills (16-9 .640)
The Steelers have won five straight since 1999 against the team from Upstate New York and are 10-1 since a playoff loss following the 1992 season. Mike Tomlin has circled the wagons to a 4-0 record against Bills Mafia. They play again Week 15.
Arizona Cardinals (34-24-3 .592)
Under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 3-1 and that includes a Super Bowl XLIII victory against the Cardinals. After dominating the Pittsburgh franchise while playing in Chicago and St. Louis, the Cards are a mere 3-8 against the Steelers since 1972. They go at it again Week 14 in the desert.
Tennessee Titans (46-32 .590)
Dating back to their days as a Central Division foe known as the Houston Oilers, the Steelers are 46-32 vs. this franchise. However, even at 5-3 under the Tomlin administration, the Steelers are only 8-13 since this team moved to Tennessee.
Cleveland Browns (75-58-1 .563)
This will always be a significant rivalry, no matter the state of the Browns. Since 1994, the Steelers hold a 40-6-1 mark and are 20-3-1 during the Tomlin regime. The Brownies have vastly improved on paper. If that translates to the gridiron, these grudge matches might get great again. They will happen on TNF during Week 11 and in Pittsburgh in Week 13,
Baltimore Ravens (28-22 .560)
The Ravens have been the Steelers’ top nemesis since coming into the league. When these two teams clash, it’s always nasty and close. Mike Tomlin is 14-13 against B-More and the Steelers have won four of the last five. Week 5 and Week 17, the carnage will continue in Heinz and M&T respectively.
Detroit Lions (17-14-1 .547)
When this series commenced in 1934, Detroit went 4-0 and owned the Steelers over the years. However, the Steelers are 13-2 since 1966 against Detroit. Those losses both occurred on Thanksgiving Day…a 45-3 shellacking in 1983 and the famous OT coin toss debacle in 1998. Mike Tomlin has a 3-0 record against the Motowners and the Steelers have won nine of the last ten. They will battle again in Pittsburgh in 2021.
Miami Dolphins (14-13 .519)
The Steelers started off 3-8 against the Phins when they first started playing in 1971. That includes losses in the AFC Championship after 1972 and 1984. In 1988, the Steelers’ reversal of fortune began with an 11-5 stretch. Mike Tomlin has doubled-up Miami with a 4-2 record. Week 8, the Steelers will host Miami on MNF.
Because of the dreadful chasm that the Steelers found themselves mired in during the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s…The Steelers are stuck with losing records against older and more traditional teams. Against the Redskins, the Steelers are 33-42-3 since 1933. But in recent times, Steeler Nation enjoys seeing Washington on their schedule. They have won six-straight dating back to 1997 and are 8-3 since 1973. Against the Packers, it’s the same type of story. The Steelers couldn’t solve Green Bay in the early days losing the first nine games. But since 1947, the Steelers have had the upper hand by going 16-10 and winning nine of twelve since 1975. One of those three loses came in SB XLV. They won’t face Washington until 2020 at home and will leap towards Lambeau in 2021.
The 2019 schedule includes other teams that the Steelers don’t have great records against like Week 2 visiting Seattle Seahawks (9-9), at the San Francisco 49ers (9-10) in Week 3 and the Los Angeles Rams (9-15-2) at home in Week 10. However, Mike Tomlin is a combined 7-2 against the NFC West trio in his career.
The Steelers also have a .500 mark against the team that they play Week 1 in the opener, the New England Patriots. But that mark is deceiving as the “Black and Gold” have dropped 11 of 15 to NE in the Belichick/Brady era.
The rest of the schedule features teams that the Steelers have a winning record over. While this formula is not really valid, if you go by these specific trends (and account for their recent record against NE), the Steelers will go 12-3-1) in 2019. That would be great, but the games are played in a field of battle and not in a Pro Football database on my IPAD.