After an aggressive offseason in which the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Russell Wilson and Patrick Queen while trading Kenny Pickett, the team made its intentions clear during the 2024 NFL Draft. The Steelers took three offensive linemen with their first four picks, with the only non-lineman being Michigan wideout Roman Wilson. In the later rounds, Pittsburgh added defensive depth at key positions.

With a new-look team, the Steelers must prove themselves in 2024 against one of the toughest schedules in the league. Whatever metric you use, the Steelers finish near or at the top in strength of schedule. When examining the combined 2023 winning percentage of Pittsburgh's 2024 opponents, Mike Tomlin's team has the third toughest schedule. When it comes to the projected win totals of the Steelers' 2024 opponents, no team in the NFL has a more difficult schedule than the Black and Gold.

With a challenging slate of games ahead for Russell Wilson in his first season in the Steel City, will the team step up to the task? Here is the scariest pitfall the Steelers must overcome on the 2024 NFL schedule.

The entire second half of the schedule

The first half of the Steelers' 2024 schedule begins innocently enough. Of the team's first nine opponents, only the Dallas Cowboys reached the playoffs in 2023. The combined win total of their other eight first-half foes is just 6.75 victories. After their week nine bye, Pittsburgh faces off against the Washington Commanders — a team that went 4-13 a year ago and will likely have a rookie quarterback under center. From that point on, the Steelers only have games against teams that finished the 2023 season with a winning record. This includes all six of its AFC North contests in a ridiculously back-loaded schedule.

First, is a quartet of matchups against their divisional rivals: hosting the Baltimore Ravens, at the Cleveland Browns (on a short week), at the Cincinnati Bengals, then back home for another game against the Browns. That is the easy portion of the Steelers' second-half slate. Then comes the gauntlet.

Pittsburgh heads across the state to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15. Six days later, the Steelers have a Saturday afternoon game on the road against mortal enemies the Ravens. Then, on just three days rest, Mike Tomlin's team must host the defending Super Champion Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day. That is three games in ten days against a trio of Super Bowl favorites. The Steelers close out the season at home against the Cincinnati Bengals 10 days later.

The worst team Pittsburgh faces during that stretch is a Bengals squad that went 9-8 without Joe Burrow for the second half of the year. Every other opponent over the final eight weeks won at least 11 games in 2023 and made the playoffs. The tough, backloaded divisional schedule is to be expected. Top to bottom, the AFC North is the toughest and deepest division in the NFL, with all four clubs finishing above .500 a year ago. But adding in late-season games at Philadelphia and against Kansas City (the latter coming on a short week) is a diabolical move from the NFL schedule makers.

The Steelers have their work cut out for them in 2024 and will need to capitalize on an easy first half of the campaign before attempting to surmount one of the most difficult second-half slates in recent memory.