I’m about to write something that would make any Pittsburgh Steelers fan gag if it were about their own team. With the Cleveland Browns’ victory yesterday over the Washington Football Team, they now have a winning record for the first time since the 2014 season. For 90 consecutive weeks of football, they have been a .500 team or below until now, which was by far the longest streak in the league.
Their last winning record goes all the way back to late in the 2014 season with Mike Pettine as head coach, in the glory days of Brian Hoyer, and it’s actually the tale of a spectacular fall. Pettine had his team at 7-4 with five games left to play in the season, and there was a four-way tie in the AFC North.
Then they lost all five of their final games to post a losing record. They have not posted a non-losing record at the end of a season for 12 years, going back to 2007 when they went 10-6—a year in which they finished second in the AFC North to the Steelers and still didn’t make it to the postseason.
The Browns have never been over .500 again since losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in week 15 of the 2014 season to drop them to 7-7, a 30-0 embarrassment. In fact, they have only won 19 games since then, plus a tie. Until now.
But Cleveland is only 2-1. They were 2-2-1 and then 7-7-1 at various points in 2018. While it’s remarkable for their own history that they have finally officially crept back over the .500 mark for the first time in a number of years, it doesn’t suddenly mean that they are good with wins over the 0-2-1 Cincinnati Bengals and the 1-2 Washington Football Team.
They have a tough next few games coming up, for example, traveling to face the Dallas Cowboys, who are 1-2 on a difficult schedule, then hosting the Los Angeles Rams, who are 3-0, and then the Steelers themselves, who are 3-0 as well through three weeks.
In other words, it would hardly be a surprise if they are no longer north of .500 three weeks from now. They may even be lucky to manage one win in that three-game group, with their best chance perhaps coming against the Cowboys.
The Browns’ best asset so far this season has been their running game, with Nick Chubb posting another 100-yard game. Kareem Hunt contributed 46 yards and also scored a touchdown on a reception again, while the duo combined for three scores in all.
The Steelers have the best run defense in the league, statistically, after three games. It will be interesting to see where they stand coming into the game against the Browns, and how they are able to contain Chubb and Hunt, while also keeping a lid on the passing game.