NFL.com calls Browns-Steelers the No. 1 rivalry in 2019

It's a battle that has been waged for decades along the shore of Lake Erie and the banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers. It comes twice a year and pits brown and orange versus black and gold.

It is Browns-Steelers. And in recent years, it has lacked a bit of a punch.

The Browns have won just six of 41 meetings (including one tie) with the division-rival Steelers since their return to the NFL in 1999. Of those 34 losses, one came in the playoffs: the 2002 AFC Wild Card meeting that serves as the last postseason appearance for the Browns. 

Despite this information, NFL.com's Adam Rank believes this lengthy series -- one that dates back to Oct. 7, 1950 -- is the No. 1 rivalry in the NFL in the 2019 season.

Rank explained that yes, Cleveland's recent moves have something to do with it. But so does the way the 2018 season standings shook out.

Take a look at a selection of photos of new Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr., including ones from his time with new teammate Jarvis Landry back when they both attended LSU.

From Rank:

"Before you accuse me of just jumping on the bandwagon and supporting the Browns after a wild offseason, let me say a few things. For starters, you are absolutely correct. I love what the Browns have done. The trade for Odell Beckham Jr. was a masterstroke. (And hey, I kinda called it a year ago.) But this Browns team is going to be a lot of fun. I know we've seen some so-called dream teams fail in the past, but this one looks really good. And the rivalry got some additional juice in Week 17 of last season. No, the teams didn't play each other, but the Browns could have sent the Steelers to the playoffs with a win over the Ravens. Cleveland fell just short, leaving Pittsburgh out of the postseason tournament for the first time since 2013.

I understand that it would be fitting to have Browns-Ravens as the rivalry here -- because Baltimore stole the Browns years ago, and the Ravens are the reigning AFC North champions -- but there is something that just feels right about Browns-Steelers being the pick."

This rivalry, while overlooked by some in the last 10 years or so, is important to the fabric of the AFC North and the fans of the Browns. Jimmy Haslam even addressed its importance during the NFL Annual Meeting this week in Phoenix.

Take a look back at the team's appearance from its inception in 1946 all the way through 2019.

"I think we're a lot better, but you all know this because you've been here, we're two years from not winning a game," Haslam said. "We still have a very young team. Last year the youngest team and this year it's still young. We all love Baker (Mayfield) and are very excited about his future but he's still a second-year QB. We have a brand new coaching staff. Our record against Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger is not very good. I think we have to prove it on the field but we are excited."

There's a reason the Browns opened the 1999 season in primetime at home against the Steelers. There's also a reason NFL Network's Dave Dameshek, unabashed fan of all things Pittsburgh, was quick to address Cleveland's recent additions with a bit of sarcasm: The Browns suddenly present themselves as a threat to the Steelers and their long run of success.

The Browns are back to challenge Pittsburgh (and the rest of the AFC North) for the throne of the division. And the threat, according to NFL.com, is real.

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