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The 1-0 Browns look to break a 20-year regular-season curse in Pittsburgh

The Cleveland Browns run onto the field carrying a Browns flag, beside a large dog statue with glowing eyes, a spiked collar and smoke shooting out of its nose.
David Richard
The Cleveland Browns run onto the field during introductions before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Cleveland. The Browns won 24-3.

The Browns have a chance to break two dismal streaks in the first two weeks of the season.

Their dominating 24-3 win against Cincinnati on Sunday was the first home opener they’ve won since 2004.

Now they prepare for Monday Night Football against the division rival Steelers in Pittsburgh, where the Browns haven’t won a regular-season game in 20 years.

Ideastream Public Media sports commentator Pluto said he’s expecting this team to win at least 10 games this season, and he said Sunday’s opener showed why, especially as a consistent rain fell.

“First of all, unless you are actually sitting out in it, I don't think people realize how wet and just bad those conditions were at the game. It was difficult for either team to throw the ball,” Pluto said. “A big difference, though, was I don't think Joe Burrow, Cincinnati's star quarterback, had any time to be comfortable.”

Pluto said the revamped defensive line led by veteran Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz made the difference.

“They just attacked and blitzed and went right after Burrow to the point where, I'll tell you, it's about the middle of the second quarter, I'm looking at him, and I'm thinking he and half the Bengals, they want to be somewhere else,” Pluto said.

New kicker Dustin Hopkins made all three of his field goal attempts.

Next comes Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh, where the Browns haven’t won a regular-season game since 2003.

The Steelers are coming off an abysmal 32-7 season-opening loss to San Francisco.

Now, here comes all the disclaimers, and we've talked about this in the past, that the first game of the NFL regular season is really a strange amount of happenings because these teams don't use their starters a lot in the preseason. They don't play their quarterbacks much in the preseason, if at all," Pluto said. "And if you look around, some really good quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and (Josh) Allen from Buffalo, a lot of guys had tough first games, so I don't put a ton of stock, for example, in Pittsburgh losing 30-7 in San Francisco means they’re going to be terrible."

Pluto jokes that there will be rumblings of a Super Bowl parade in Cleveland if the Browns beat the Steelers and start the season 2-0.

“But it's important for them to win these early games because of their first four games, three are in their division. Number one was Cincinnati. Number two is Pittsburgh. And then in week number four is Baltimore. And the way to win your division is to beat your teams in your division, and they’re all good teams, or at least they’re supposed to be,” Pluto said.

Pluto said notching that first win against Cincinnati was just the start they needed.

“How many times have we done this where the Browns lost 24-3 in the opening game or some awful thing happens and it's just like, ‘Oh, here we go again. Same old Browns.’ At least for a week, well we don't have any of those discussions,” Pluto said.

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