It’s hard to imagine the Cleveland Browns having a rivalry with any team in the NFL, but they are actually great rivals to one of the most decorated franchises in NFL history. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the most dominant teams in league history, but the Cleveland Browns have proven to be a great rival throughout the years.
Proximity certainly plays a huge role in this rivalry, with Cleveland and Pittsburgh being relatively close. The Steelers and Browns have the oldest rivalry in the history of the American Football Conference. Many of the greatest players in the history of the NFL have suited up for these teams, and there has also been a lot of crossover between the Steelers and Browns. Pittsburgh has been much better than the Browns in recent seasons, but odds are that Cleveland will eventually return to glory.
History of Steelers vs. Browns
The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers met for the first time on October 7, 1950, and the rivalry was born. Cleveland won that first meeting with Pittsburgh by a score of 30-17, and they dominated the first two decades of this rivalry.
The Browns went 31-9 against the Steelers in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but Pittsburgh took control of this rivalry for good in the 1970’s. The AFC North rivals have met a total of 132 times in the regular season, and Pittsburgh leads the series by a count of 75-58-1, with the tie coming in 2018. Pittsburgh has also won the only two postseason matchups between the two teams, outscoring the Browns by a total of 65-42 in those games. The Steelers and Browns have combined to win 32 AFC Central/North Championships since the 1970 season, and odds are that they will continue to dominate the division going forward.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the oldest team in the American Football Conference and have also been one of the most successful. The team was founded in 1933 and was originally called the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they changed the name to “Steelers” for good in 1945. Pittsburgh has played in 16 conference championship games in the Super Bowl era and has hosted a league-high 11 of them. The Steelers won four Super Bowl titles from 1974-1979 and were led by one of the most dominating defensive lines in NFL history, nicknamed the “Steel Curtain.” Running back Franco Harris and quarterback Terry Bradshaw are two of the most famous players to wear a Steelers uniform and have both been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Cleveland Browns first started playing games during the 1946 season as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference. Cleveland absolutely dominated the league in the early years, winning four straight championships. The NFL came calling in 1950, and the Browns joined as one of three expansion teams. Cleveland was again successful right away in the NFL, winning the league championship in their very first season.
Owner Art Modell moved the team from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, but the Browns returned to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999. Since their return to the NFL, Cleveland has produced just two winning seasons, and have only made one playoff appearance (2002). Running back Jim Brown is arguably the most famous player in Browns history and is one of the best players in NFL history.
Head to Head Analysis of Steelers vs. Broncos
The last 20 games between the Steelers and Browns don’t paint a very accurate picture of the history of this rivalry, but they can help us make predictions for the matchups in future seasons. The last 20 games takes us all the way back to the 2009 season, and there has been one tie in a game played during the 2018 season.
The Steelers have posted a 16-3-1 record against the Browns since the 2009 season, but the Browns have kept things close in several of the losses. All three of the Browns wins have come in their home city of Cleveland, but the Steelers have also racked up six wins away from home. Pittsburgh has gone a perfect 10-0 at home in the last 20 games, and they are usually the pick in this rivalry.
It’s pretty easy to see how much better the Steelers have been than the Browns in the last 20 games, but that doesn’t tell the whole story in this rivalry. The Browns haven’t always made things easy on the Steelers, and they have kept a lot of the games close. If we look at the point spread and betting odds in the last 20 games, we can see that Cleveland has actually been the right pick in the majority of the games.
Pittsburgh has been the betting favorite in 18 of the last 20 games in terms of point spread. Cleveland has actually been the right pick in 10 of those games, meaning that Pittsburgh has gone just 8-10 against the spread as the favorite. In the two games where the Browns had the better odds, Pittsburgh and Cleveland split those two games.
Sportsbooks also set a betting line on the “total” number of points for each matchup and odds are given in respect to those totals. Pittsburgh and Cleveland have combined to go “over” the total number just nine times, while the “under” has been the winner in the other 11 games. If you are making picks, Pittsburgh would be the clear money line winner in this rivalry, but the Browns have been great at covering the spread.
A Glance at Postseason Success in Steelers vs. Browns
The Pittsburgh Steelers got off to a slow start in terms of winning championships, but they have been one of the best in the Super Bowl Era. Pittsburgh has won the Lombardi Trophy six times since the first Super Bowl was played, and they are tied with the New England Patriots for the most all-time Super Bowl wins. Cleveland has yet to win a Super Bowl, but they have actually won more league championships than Pittsburgh.
The Browns have a total of eight league championships, with all of them coming before the 1965 season. Cleveland has also won more conference championships (11) than the Steelers (8), which seems hard to imagine with how the teams have been in recent years. Pittsburgh has made a whopping 31 playoff appearances in franchise history, and the Browns are right behind them with 28. The Browns haven’t made a playoff appearance since 2002, but history tells us that they have had great success throughout the years.
Look for the Cleveland Browns to rejuvenate their team and spark a new era in this rivalry moving forward. Pittsburgh’s reign in the rivalry may be coming to and end in future seasons. No matter which way the games go, though, you can rest assured that any time the Steelers and Browns play you’ll be watching a great game of football!