Cleveland Browns fans feel that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the rival. However. that’s not the case as they have been replaced by the Baltimore Ravens
For my entire life, the primary thing I have heard when it comes to being a Cleveland Browns is that you have to hate the Pittsburgh Steelers. I heard nonstop that the Steelers are the main rival bar none, no exceptions, don’t ask questions.
But as time has gone on, I no longer view the Steelers as the rival for Cleveland. In fact, I don’t consider Browns vs. Steelers to be a rivalry at all. However, the Browns do have a rivalry in the AFC North and it’s a team they’re very familiar with because this team used to be the. Yes, that’s right, the Baltimore Ravens are now the primary rival for the Browns
Before we fully dive into this, let’s first talk about what makes a rivalry. So, what makes a rivalry? Well, that’s a hard question to answer because it’s all very subjective and no two people are going to have the exact same definition of a rivalry.
For me, a rivalry can’t just be a one-way street where one team and fanbase don’t like the opposing team and fanbase but the opposing team and fanbase have no emotions back. It has to be that the two sides don’t like each other. It also cannot be that bragging rights are strictly on the line, there has to be more substance to it.
Whether that’s deciding who wins the division and who goes home. Who gets the better playoff position. Who goes to the Super Bowl and who goes home (as we just saw in the NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams). There are countless other situations, but it feels like those are the big ones.
When it comes to the Browns vs. Steelers, it no longer feels like a rivalry. Up until 2019, the Browns were either near or in the basement while the Steelers were consistently near the top of the AFC North battling for the division title or a wildcard spot.
Thus, the games between the Browns and Steelers didn’t really mean anything. After everything that happened in 2019 and then 2020, it looked like the rivalry had been re-ignited. But then the Steelers got the brooms out and won both games in 2021.
After the 26-14 loss against the Steelers on MNF at Heinz Field, Ben Roethlisberger improved his record to 26-3-1 against the Browns. In other words, total domination. There was a period of time when Ben was the winningest quarterback at FirstEnergy Stadium, the home of the Browns.
That doesn’t sound like a rivalry to me.
So who is the Cleveland Browns real rival?
The new primary rival for the Cleveland Browns is the Baltimore Ravens. There are several reasons why this is now the case. First off, the reason that the Ravens exist in the first place is that Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore in the mid-90s.
However, the name Browns along with the colors of brown and orange and team history would be staying in Cleveland. So basically the Ravens were a new team that was hitting the reset button and starting over. So right out of the gate, you’ve got instant animosity.
When you at the recent games between the two sides, it hasn’t just been bragging rights on the line. Remember the game from Week 17 in 2018? If the Ravens won, they would clinch the division. But if the Browns won, then the Steelers would win the AFC North. Then the Browns beat the Ravens in Week 4 of 2019 in Baltimore.
At the time, it felt like a turning point for Cleveland, but we all know how that season turned out. Do you remember the Monday Night Football game from Week 14 of the 2020 season? That game was absolutely insane! Then the two games this season looked like they were going to have playoff implications.
As the Ravens’ head coach, John Harbaugh is 23-4. So you’re probably thinking that I just contradicted myself by stating that statistic. However, as I said earlier the Browns were usually the doormat of the division while the Ravens were fighting for the top of the division and playoff spots.
But now the narrative is changing and the playing field appears to be leveling out, although it would be more level if the Browns had Josh Allen (the Buffalo Bills’ quarterback) as their quarterback. Obviously, that’s not going to happen, so I’m in a bit of a holding pattern with this part of the story.
Can the Steelers vs Browns rivalry be reignited? Yes, it can, and it looked like it was going to be after 2019 and 2020. But overall, the Baltimore Ravens have replaced the Pittsburgh Steelers as the rival for the Cleveland Browns.