For the past two years, the only late-season “rooting guides” we could write about were ones that would improve the Cleveland Browns’ draft position (i.e. see Week 17 of the 2017 season). Even though 3-6-1 might still feel like a bit of a stretch to start thinking about the playoffs, we don’t care! It is fun as hell to fantasize about, and we like to paint an optimistic picture:
AFC Standings Heading into Week 12
The Browns are unlikely to win the AFC North, since the Steelers are four wins ahead of Cleveland in the win column. Therefore, the playoff scenarios we will discuss will focus on the final wildcard spot, which Cleveland is only two wins behind in the win column (note: if the Browns finish tied in wins with any team for the final wildcard spot, Cleveland would get the edge due to having one less loss*).
*Unless another team gets a tie between now and the end of the season.
Week 12 Rooting Guide Summary (Most Important Right Now)
Quite simply, we want everyone in front of the Browns to lose. There are a lot of teams (six) that need to lose — it won’t all happen in one week, but the idea is that Cleveland builds a winning streak, and week-by-week, the Browns move up as a subset of teams suffer a loss.
- Cleveland Browns defeat Cincinnati Bengals
- Oakland Raiders defeat Baltimore Ravens
- Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Denver Broncos
- Houston Texans defeat Tennessee Titans
- Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts - Both of these teams are 5-5, and they each have relatively soft schedules moving forward. Therefore, it is a push on who to root for — but whoever wins this week, then we root for them to lose in the following week.
These outcomes would allow Cleveland to move up to the 11th spot in the AFC. That doesn’t seem like much, but then a Week 13 win over Houston could put them in position to jump up as high as the 7th spot in the AFC in a best case scenario.
Bonus Rooting (Help Take Other Teams Out of Mix)
Let us know what crazy scenarios you come up with to show the Browns getting the sixth seed! Here is one for us, which even has the Browns losing one game and making it: