Pittsburgh Steelers schedule analysis

Breakdown: Pittsburgh and the AFC North will match up against the NFC South and AFC East this year, which will provide an interesting slate of games. The AFC East, led by the New York Jets and New England Patriots, is expected to be one of the most balanced divisions in the conference, along with the AFC North.

Complaint department: Pittsburgh's strength of schedule is rated No. 21. So there aren't an overwhelming amount of brutal games on the team's schedule. But the toughest stretch this season will begin on Halloween.

The Steelers play an unusual trio of three consecutive primetime games. It starts Oct. 31 on the road against the defending champion New Orleans Saints. Pittsburgh then faces the Cincinnati Bengals on "Monday Night Football" Nov. 8, followed by a Sunday night game against the Patriots on Nov. 14.

No Big Ben: If things go as expected, the NFL will suspend Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger two to four games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Although no criminal charges were filed, Roethlisberger faced two accusations of sexual assault in the past two years, and that was enough to catch commissioner Roger Goodell's attention.

The Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans could be the biggest beneficiaries, because they probably won't face Roethlisberger in the first two weeks. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens also could see Pittsburgh's backup quarterback if the suspension reaches four games.

Steelers Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Atlanta, 1:00 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Baltimore, 1:00 PM

Week 5: BYE

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Cleveland, 1:00 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Miami, 1:00 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at New Orleans, 8:20 PM

Week 9: Monday, Nov. 8, at Cincinnati, 8:30 PM

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, New England, 8:20 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, Oakland, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, at Buffalo, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Baltimore, 8:20 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, NY Jets, 4:15 PM

Week 16: Thursday, Dec. 23, Carolina, 8:20 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM