Every year when I talk about scenarios in which the Cleveland Browns can make the postseason, everything I say is incredibly far-fetched. It typically involves things like the Browns finishing the season with a seven-game winning streak, and then hoping all of the contending teams lose to the worst teams in football.
This year, things are different: having already defeated the Bengals 24-3 on Thursday Night Football, the Browns' record is 6-3 heading into the rest of the Week 10 action in the NFL. Prior to the start of the Sunday games, Cleveland holds the 5th seed in the AFC, but are also in a tie for first place in the AFC North. The Steelers currently own the tiebreaker because they have a better record in common games. That is only a temporary tiebreaker because the Steelers have played the Ravens twice.
Week 10 Games to Watch In Relation to the Browns' Playoff Hopes
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills: As you can see above, the Chiefs and the Bills both currently hold the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds in the AFC. With a win, one of these two teams will have the same record as Cleveland. If the Chiefs win, they would move ahead of the Browns because their 5-2 conference record would be better than Cleveland's 4-3 conference record.
If the Bills win, Cleveland stays ahead of them because Buffalo's conference record would be 3-3. Both of these teams have 5 tough games and 2 easy games left on their schedule, so it's honestly a coin flip as to who Browns fans should root for. I always like to pick teams who we "control our own destiny" against, and in this case, that is Buffalo. If Buffalo wins, yes, they have the same record as the Browns, but Cleveland plays them in Week 13 and can try to win the tiebreaker head-to-head, while giving the Chiefs an extra loss in Week 10 for the heck of it. Go root for Buffalo.
Miami Dolphins vs. Detroit Lions: The Dolphins are a scary team right now. With a win, they would have a 5-2 conference record, which is better than the Browns. If Buffalo wins and Miami wins, Cleveland would stay the 5th seed because Buffalo owns a division tiebreaker over Miami. If the Dolphins win and the Bills lose, the Chiefs would be No. 5 and the Dolphins would be No. 6, bumping Cleveland down to No. 7. It's quite clear for this one: root hard for Detroit.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets: This one won't happen, but we the Jets to win. If Pittsburgh loses, Cleveland would move up to the No. 4 seed in the AFC and first place in the AFC North. Pittsburgh would either fall to the No. 5 seed, No. 6 seed, or No. 7 seed, depending on other games.
Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens: The Titans aren't a threat to Cleveland right now. Because Cleveland beat Tennessee, if the Titans beat the Ravens, that would give the Browns an extra tiebreaker over the Ravens down the road for common games (if it came down to that loopy scenario). Also, we always want to keep AFC North teams as far back as possible in the rear view mirror. Root for the Titans.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders: I probably shouldn't even list this game, because there is no way the Browns will finish the season with a better record than the Broncos. Also, I kind of believe we need a team like Denver to be as hot as possible so that they can help the Browns take out teams like Miami, Kansas City, Buffalo, San Diego, and Cincinnati, all of whom they play in that order from Weeks 12-16. Technically, if the Broncos lose this week, the Browns would be in a tie with them in terms of wins and losses. This one is for the long haul and not the short term: root for the Broncos.
To summarize, we want the underlined teams to win this week to benefit the Browns:
- Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills
- Miami Dolphins vs. Detroit Lions
- Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets
- Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens