Since their reincarnation in 1999, the Cleveland Browns have been the second-worst team in the NFL with an overall record of 77-158. The Browns are ahead of only the Detroit Lions who are 76-160 in that span. They have only two winning seasons in that span and have had double-digit losses in all but 3 seasons. Aside from a 3-game winning streak in September, the Browns are just 1-6 this season.
So why should Steelers fans be wary of this game, aside from the fact that the Browns defense is playing very well? Look no farther than the Steelers history against the Cleveland Browns. Since 1999, the Steelers are 23-5 against the Browns, which one wouldn't think should be any cause for concern. But let's take a look at the Steelers five losses to the Browns.
Since the Browns reincarnation in 1999, the Steelers have lost to the Browns five times and missed the playoffs in all five of those seasons. In fact, the Steelers have only missed the playoffs once in the past 14 years when they swept the Browns (2006). Losing to the Browns is a bad omen for the rest of the season, and at this point the Steelers can't afford another loss. Looking back at the five losses to the Browns, in two of the instances the Steelers would have made the playoffs if not for a loss to Cleveland. Last season the loss to the Browns put them in a bad position in the divisional standings when they faced a do-or-die game against Cincinnati later in the year. The other two seasons were 6-10 years where we didn't even sniff the playoffs. The Steelers are currently sitting at 4-6 but just one game behind the Jets and Dolphins in the race for the last playoff spot. The Browns are also 4-6, so the winner of this game will put themselves in position to make a run at the second Wild Card.