Re: is the nfl punishing the steeles?
The league would only be penalizing itself if it thought the Steelers "deserved" to be restricted to a smaller viewing area and therefore depressed TV ratings by showcasing a game such as Browns-Bengals or Bills-Jags instead - Steelers get the same TV $$ either way. The punishment to which the person you heard probably was referring was fining a team (or sitting its franchise QB out for 4 games) for player misconduct
Fact is with #7 out the match-up simply is not as attractive because the Steelers are not as good a team. It is why all prime time games and the national doubleheader game featuring the Steelers were scheduled this year for after #7's return.
It is your rotten luck the NFL probably regards Arkansas as part of the Titans viewing area since you are across the river from Tennessee - same reason Atlanta often gets Jags and Titans games on the CBS affiliate although neither team has a following here