Pittsburgh Steelers schedule analysis

Breakdown: The Steelers parted ways with big-name veterans in Hines Ward and James Farrior, but they are still in demand. Pittsburgh is one of eight teams to receive five prime-time games.

In a cruel twist by schedule makers, the Steelers begin their season where it ended -- in Denver. Instead of rehashing the memory of Tim Tebow's winning touchdown pass in overtime, Pittsburgh has to deal with Peyton Manning and his Broncos debut. It's then possible that the Steelers will face Tebow in Week 2 when the New York Jets visit.

The division should come down to the final two months of the season. The Steelers finish by playing five AFC North teams over the last seven weeks of the regular season. The most intense part of the schedule is the time when the Steelers battle the Ravens twice in three weeks (Nov. 18 and Dec. 2). That doesn't give the teams too much time to heal.

Complaint department: Pittsburgh starts the season by playing four of six games on the road. In September, the Steelers have one home game and two trips out west. A bye week is sandwiched in that rough opening stretch, but that even hurts the Steelers. Who wants a bye week in Week 4? That means the Steelers have to play 13 consecutive games without a break.

Home cooking: If the Steelers can survive that challenging start, the last month of the schedule works in their favor. Pittsburgh plays three of its final four games at home, which includes contests at Heinz Field against Cincinnati and Cleveland to finish out the regular season.

Steelers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Denver, 8:20 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, NY Jets, 4:15 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Oakland, 4:15 PM

Week 4: BYE

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM

Week 6: Thursday, Oct. 11, at Tennessee, 8:20 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Cincinnati, 8:20 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, Washington, 1:00 PM

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at NY Giants, 4:15 PM

Week 10: Monday, Nov. 12, Kansas City, 8:30 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, Baltimore, 8:20 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Baltimore, 4:15 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, San Diego, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Dallas, 4:15 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Cleveland, 1:00 PM