The Cleveland Browns open the 2014 NFL season today against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
The last time the Browns opened a season in Pittsburgh, in 1989, they beat the Steelers 51-0 to start a year that saw the Browns advance to the AFC Championship Game.
It’s safe to say it has been all downhill since then for the Browns and their one-time rival.
The Browns have only beaten the Steelers twice in the past seven years, have only one win in their past 14 games at Heinz Field, and have gone 5-31 against Pittsburgh over the past 36 meetings between the two teams.
It’s not just Pittsburgh, either, as season-opening games have not been kind to the Browns since 1999.
The Browns have lost nine consecutive opening games; lose today against the Steelers and they would set an NFL record for opening-day futility.
“That’s something that’s a big part of our prep (but) understanding that that has nothing to do with us,” Browns head coach Mike Pettine said earlier this week. “That has nothing to do with this game. That has nothing to do with us moving forward. That was our message back in the spring when we said, ‘Hey, recognize the history, but break off the rear view mirror.’ This is just another way to prove that.”
As the Browns get ready to start reversing those disappointing numbers today in Pittsburgh, here are five things to watch for.