As the Cleveland Browns Thrive, the Pittsburgh Steelers Slide

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | The shoe is finally on the other foot.

After a decade that saw the Pittsburgh Steelers win two Super Bowls as the Cleveland Browns floundered near the bottom of the NFL's food chain, it's clear who the better team has been so far in 2013.

The Browns, without a doubt.

At 2-2 following an impressive 17-6 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on September 29, the Browns have already made people forget about the Trent Richardson trade that was supposed to be a sign that Cleveland was already giving up on the 2013 season.

Instead, the opposite has happened, as Cleveland has energized their fan base over the past two weeks with a pair of solid victories. New starting quarterback Brian Hoyer, while not spectacular, has managed games well in leading the Browns' offense to success, pretty much guaranteeing that the Brandon Weeden-era is over in Cleveland.

As well as the offense has played over the last fortnight, the real key to Cleveland's sudden turnaround has been their defense. Ray Horton's unit has played well all year, and their performance against the Bengals was absolutely impressive, as they held the high-powered Cincinnati offense in check all day long.

Records versus common opponents is a great barometer of how two teams who have yet to meet measure up against one another. Knowing that, even the most diehard Steelers fan would have a hard time arguing that Pittsburgh has played better than the Browns in 2013.

Pittsburgh has lost to both the Bengals and Vikings this year as they have stumbled to an 0-4 start that has the Steelers all alone in the AFC North basement.

There's just not much good that can be said about the Steeler offense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has struggled in 2013, as he's stuck behind what could be the worst offensive line in football at this point. Roethlisberger has already been sacked 15 times through four games, and his five interceptions haven't helped the Steeler cause any. It doesn't help matters that Pittsburgh still has the same ineffective ground game that didn't work for them in 2012, so it's likely that offensive coordinator Todd Haley's days in the Steel City are numbered.

Pittsburgh's struggles on the offensive side of the ball have been mirrored by their defense. The days of the Steelers being able to rely on their defense to win football games have gone by the wayside in 2013. Vaunted defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's usually solid unit has struggled to create big plays so far this season. Amazingly, through four games, Pittsburgh's defense has just four sacks and has yet to force a turnover in 2013.

The season is still young, so things could change, but for the time being Cleveland fans can stand tall, walk with a swagger, and say with confidence that the Browns are indeed a better team than the Steelers.

How great does that feel?

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for over 25 years.

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