Younger fans of the Browns and Bengals get to experience something new today at Paul Brown Stadium – a game at this point in the season that has real meaning to both squads.

Going into the 81st edition of the Battle of Ohio, the Bengals are 6-4 and lead the AFC North by 1½ games over the Browns and Ravens, who are 4-5. You have to go back to Week 13 of the 1989 season to find the last time both teams have met and been in contention for a playoff spot.

Since then, each franchise has experienced its version of the dark ages. The Bengals went 14 years between postseason trips but have gone four times under Marvin Lewis, including three of the past four seasons. However, they still have the longest drought between playoff wins at 22 years.

The Browns have had just one playoff trip and two winning seasons since returning in 1999. Their last postseason win, in 1994, gives them the league’s fourth-longest drought.

When Lewis became Bengals coach in 2003, the Browns had a three-game edge in the series. Since then, the tables have turned, as the Bengals have gone 14-7 to take a four-game lead on their northerly neighbors, including sweeping the season series four times. The last time Cleveland swept it was 2002.

“Back when I was playing, the Battle of Ohio meant something. Recently it has been lip service,” said Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham, a Bengal from 1974-83. “People have almost laughed at it. You would say Battle of Ohio and they would say, ‘What battle?’ Neither team has been into the deep end of the playoffs.”

The last time the teams faced each other when they were first and second in the division at midseason or later was Week 9 of 1995, when there was a three-way tie with Pittsburgh at 3-4. Eric Zeier and the Browns outdueled Jeff Blake and the Bengals 29-26 in overtime. The Bengals rallied from a 10-point deficit to force overtime with a touchdown and field goal in the final 69 seconds.