As we discussed a few days ago, while the Cleveland Browns were on the bye, all six games that had somewhat of an implication on their AFC playoff chances ended in Cleveland's favor. Earlier today, I did a general Week 11 NFL predictions post. For another spin on things, outlined below is your Week 11 NFL viewing guide for games that matter to the Cleveland Browns and their playoff hopes:
Colts (6-3) vs. Titans (4-5): Things could get very interesting in the AFC South after tonight's Thursday Night Football game. Just think -- if the Titans win, they would be just one game in back of the division lead, and these two teams meet again two weeks later. A loss by the Colts would potentially improve Cleveland's first-round draft pick that they acquired from them for Trent Richardson.
For playoff purposes, I don't want the Titans to get hot and take the division because that would likely mean that the Colts would still have a good enough record to take a wildcard spot away from us. I think it is beneficial for the Colts to win tonight and secure the division, which would guarantee that Tennessee does not move ahead of Cleveland in the wildcard race.
Ravens (4-5) vs. Bears (5-4): When an AFC team is facing an NFC team, it's a no-brainer: it is more beneficial for Cleveland if the NFC team wins. The Ravens, record-wise, are technically in the same position as the Browns, so we want the Bears to win to set them back in the division and wildcard race.
Lions (6-3) vs. Steelers (3-6): Realistically, I can't see the Steelers making a run for the playoff with how bad they've looked. A loss to the Lions would basically be the final nail in their coffin, but if Pittsburgh wins and a lot of other things go their way, they could find themselves just one game behind a wildcard spot after this week. It's better if the Lions just win.
Jets (5-4) vs. Bills (3-7): The Jets currently hold the final wildcard spot in the AFC. Seven losses already makes it tough for Buffalo to be a wildcard threat, so we're rooting for the Bills to win all the way. If that happens, even if Cleveland loses to the Bengals, they'd still be just one game out of a wildcard spot heading into Week 12.
Chargers (4-5) vs. Dolphins (4-5): This really ends up being a pick'em type of situation, since one of these teams will improve to five wins on the season by the end of the game. The Dolphins have beaten the Browns, so we don't want them in a tiebreaker scenario. However, with the whole Incognito-Martin storyline, is Miami really going to win enough games (8-9) to be a wildcard team at the end? I think the Chargers are the much better team this year, and quite frankly, their talent scares me a bit.
This is a tough decision, but I'm going to say that we should root for the Chargers to win. Later this year, the Dolphins face the Jets twice; if New York gets into a funk, I'd hate for Miami to slip ahead of them. At least if the Jets are tied with us, the Browns could potentially own a tiebreaker over them. Even though I think San Diego is the better team, they have three games remaining against the Broncos and Chiefs. That schedule seems a little tougher, so if they get a win now, it hurts Miami more, if that makes sense.
Obviously, we want the Browns to beat the Bengals too; the guide above is meant for other games that matter. To summarize, the underlined teams below coming away with wins would be most ideal for Cleveland:
- Colts vs. Titans
- Ravens vs. Bears
- Lions vs. Steelers
- Jets vs. Bills
- Chargers vs. Dolphins
Starting in Week 12, we can begin using ESPN's Playoff Scenario tool, which is always a lot of fun.