With a dead period in the NFL calendar, there’s plenty of time to review its 2023 schedule. Released last week, every team knows the order of the 17 games they’ll play this season. Frankly, that’s just as important as the actual clubs they’ll face. Predicting strength of schedule, who will compete and who won’t, is a fruitless task given how unpredictable each season is. But the placement of games, home vs away, bye weeks, mini-byes, short weeks, all that is static and can impact a team’s success.
Warren Sharp took an in-depth look at the 2023 schedule and focused in on net “rest days.” Essentially looking at the net time off each team gets in relation to its opponent, the idea being the more rested team has the better chance to win its matchup. If a week pits a team that played on Sunday afternoon against a team that played Monday night, the former has a +1 rest day and the advantage.
With that said, here’s Sharp’s results for the best and worst net “rest days” across the league. Pittsburgh comes in at +7, tied for the sixth-best mark in the NFL. Which for those unsure, is a good thing.
It seems the bulk of the Steelers’ net-win stems from their two mini-bye weeks following Thursday night games. After playing the Tennessee Titans in Week 9 and New England Patriots in Week 14 on TNF, they’ll host the Green Bay Packers Week 10 and travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts in Week 15. The Packers and Colts will be coming off Sunday games, meaning the Steelers’ 10-day layoff on the other side of their Thursday night game nets them a couple extra days to get ready. It’s the one upside of playing on a short week.
From that scheduling point of view and others, knowing the team finally gets a home opener and its Thursday night games are at home (with home games the week prior), the schedule makers were fairly kind to the Steelers this season. Their end of the season stretch is tough, three of their final four on the road including travelling to Seattle Week 17 and Baltimore Week 18, and the only obvious gauntlet on Pittsburgh’s slate.
According to Sharp’s metrics, the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and Washington Commanders have the best “net rest” figures at +12. Like Pittsburgh, the Jets and Bears play a pair of Thursday night games to help boost their numbers. The San Francisco 49ers come out the worst at -20, though they’ll be even when they travel to Pittsburgh Week One.