Buckle Up: Browns vs Steelers is Back

Are the Cleveland Browns for real?

Before we go any further, in full disclosure, I’m a Browns fan, born and raised. That said, if you ask my colleagues, they’ll tell you that I don’t see the world through brown and orange. After being at the bottom for so long, Stockholm syndrome for the Cleveland fan base wore off about 10 years ago. Any optimism that had been shared was done so with the same realistic expectations of building a house of cards lasting an earthquake. Even at 4-1, on a four-game win streak and tied for second in the division, it is hard not to wonder if this is the week it all comes falling down. This week just so happens to be the first of two Pittsburgh weeks on the season, and the stakes haven’t been higher since the two franchises met in the 2004 Wild Card when Pittsburgh won.

Pittsburgh is favored in this game, and rightfully so. DraftKings Sportsbook has the line set at Steelers -3. This has to be the closest I’ve seen this game projected with “Big Ben” Roethlisberger at the helm of the Pittsburgh offense against the Browns. Until Cleveland’s home win over the Colts this last weekend, Roethlisberger had sole possession of the record for most wins at FirstEnergy Stadium, the stadium built for the Browns’ return to the NFL in 1999. Now, he shares the record with Baker Mayfield at 11 wins each. This weekend’s match is at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, but the record speaks to the dominance the Steelers have had over Cleveland over the last 20 years.

At -3, Pittsburgh needs to win by four points or more for those betting the Steelers’ moneyline. Gambling aside, the Steelers want this win. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Browns beat the Steelers in Cleveland when Mason Rudolph was in for an injured Roethlisberger. That game is remembered for the altercation that took place on the field of play where Browns defensive end, Myles Garrett, hit Rudolph with Rudolph’s helmet, resulting in an indefinite suspension for Garrett that lasted the rest of the 2019 season. The Steelers won the second game between the division rivals, splitting the series at 1-1.

With Roelthisberger and the Steelers at 5-0, they enter this contest on top of the AFC North, and ready to show that they are back to reclaim their division. The Browns are riding high and ready to bring meaning back to the storied rivalry by being relevant again. I don’t know who will win, but that -3 feels like a trap all around.