On Wednesday, I took an overall look at the Cleveland Browns' chances of winning the AFC North or capturing a wildcard spot in the AFC. Earlier today, I did a general Week 12 NFL predictions post. For another spin on things, outlined below is your Week 12 NFL viewing guide for games that matter to the Cleveland Browns and their playoff hopes:
- Ravens (4-6): I'm torn about this game, because whatever scenario we root for this week is only accurate if the following weeks go a certain direction.
If the Jets win and the Browns can stay pace with them, it doesn't seem like as big of a deal, because we face them in Week 16 and can catch them with a win. If the Jets win this week to go to 6-5, they have the Dolphins, Raiders, Panthers, Browns, and Dolphins remaining. To not go over 8-8, the Jets would have to finish the season at 2-3. Let's say the Browns are one of those losses -- that means they have to be 2-2. I don't think they can beat the Panthers. Then, it boils down to whether Miami can split a game against them. If the Dolphins finish at 8-8 (versus something worse like 7-9), it actually helps the Browns, because the Jets would own a tiebreaker over the Dolphins, and that tiebreaker would help negate our loss to the Dolphins in Week 1, should Miami also finish at 8-8! (breathes)
If the Ravens win, it's more of an "instant celebration" for Cleveland: they could be tied for the wildcard spot heading into Week 13. However, the Ravens have two division games left this season: one against Pittsburgh, and one against Cincinnati. If the Ravens win both of those games and finish the season at 8-8, they would get a wildcard spot over Cleveland via a tiebreaker. However, if they lose one of those division games and finish at 8-8, the Browns would have the tiebreaker. It all depends on how much faith we have in Baltimore to get on a hot streak. Based on what they've shown, I'd like to think they'll remain inconsistent.
With all of that said, I'm going to say that I'm rooting for the Jets to beat the Ravens this week. It helps take out division competition for us, and it could also help in the event Miami finishes 8-8. The risk, of course, is if the Jets stay hot and finish the year at 9-7. If Cleveland keeps winning, it'll certainly be tense doing scoreboard-watching on Jets games!
(7-3) vs. Dolphins (5-5): This is a no-brainer: we want the Panthers to win. Miami has a better conference record than Cleveland right now, so we don't want a scenario in which both teams finish with the same record. The Panthers have been great in their last three road games, and I hope their stout defense can terrorize the Dolphins' depleted offensive line.
- Chiefs (9-1): The Chargers don't appear to be a long-term threat anymore, having lost three straight games with three games still remaining against the Chiefs and Broncos. Nonetheless, it is better for them to lose so that we don't even have to worry about them crowding the race, so we are rooting for the Chiefs to win.
(4-6) vs. Raiders (4-6): If the Browns win, one of these two teams -- Oakland or Tennessee -- will be tied record-wise with us. I'm not really afraid of either team long-term because of their quarterback situations. The Raiders have a much more brutal schedule to close out the season compared to the Titans, though, so I'll say that we want the Raiders to win this week to help take out the Titans.
Obviously, we want the Browns to beat the Steelers 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:
- Jets vs. Ravens
- Panthers vs. Dolphins
- Chargers vs. Chiefs
- Titans vs. Raiders
If the scenarios above came true, the Jets would still be the No. 6 seed heading into Week 13. Here are some variations on the above scenario, and who would hold the No. 6 seed based on them:
- If you keep the scenarios the same above but have the Ravens win instead of the Jets, then the winner of the Raiders vs. Titans game would hold the No. 6 seed.
- If the Ravens win and the Dolphins pull off an upset, then Miami would hold the No. 6 seed, regardless of who wins the Raiders vs. Titans game.
- The only way Cleveland could hold the No. 6 seed heading into Week 13 is if the Jets and Panthers win, and then the Titans vs. Raiders tie.
- For this week, the Chargers are insignificant in all of this, whether they win or lose.
As hopeless as that may sound, if Cleveland wins this week against Pittsburgh, there are several scenarios the following week that would temporarily give Cleveland the edge for the No. 6 seed, based on who is favored to win games.