The Cleveland Browns are currently 3-6. Their victory over the Buffalo Bills not only helped their own win-loss record, but in beating Buffalo it also diluted another club who will be in serious playoff contention going down the stretch.
Can the Browns still make the playoffs? Well, that depends mainly on what the team does in their final games and also will more than likely need some other squads to lose some games. Let’s examine what the other teams are doing, and who has the best chances of making the post-season.
AFC North Division
Baltimore Ravens 7-2
With another Baltimore victory on Sunday over the hapless Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens lead the division with a 3-1 record. That single divisional loss, of course, was to the Browns. On their schedule next are the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Bills, then one easy game against the New York Jets, followed by the Browns, before closing out against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore is currently on a five-game winning streak that includes victories over the Steelers, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, all tough squads. They could finish 12-4 or just as likely end up 9-7. Post-season probability: 90%.
Both the Texans and 49ers are division leaders, whereas the Rams are a roller coaster, while the Steelers are one of the league’s hottest clubs. For the Browns to have a shot at the division, they are going to need the red-hot Ravens to come apart at the seams - especially against the better competition.
Pittsburgh Steelers 5-4
The Steelers won a close one Sunday by beating last year’s NFC champs in the Rams, 17-12. This ups Pittsburgh’s record to 5-4. Remaining games are the Browns on the road Thursday night, then the Bengals, Browns at home, Arizona Cardinals, Bills, Jets and finally the Ravens. This game is imperative for Cleveland to have any outside chance of sniffing the playoffs. Pittsburgh is 1-1 in the division and have won five of their last six games, including a four-game win streak.
The Steelers have two easy games against the Cardinals and Jets. The Browns will need the stouter teams to come through and add to the Steelers loss column in addition to at least splitting their two games with the black and gold.
There are numerous clubs who have a good chance of getting into the postseason through either of the two Wild Card berths - all currently with better records than the Browns.
Buffalo Bills 6-3
Sunday: lost to the Browns, 19-16. Postseason probability: 61%. Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Dallas Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, Patriots.
Sunday: defeated the Rams, 17-12. Postseason probability: 56%. Currently, the Steelers have the conference tie breaker. Last five games: 4-1.
Oakland Raiders 5-4
Sunday: lost to the Miami Dolphins, 16-12. Postseason probability: 34%. Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Texans, Titans, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars (twice).
Tennessee Titans 5-5
Sunday: beat the Chiefs, 35-32. Post-season probability: 14%. Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Raiders, Jaguars, Colts Texans (twice), Saints.
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-5
Sunday: bye week. Postseason probability: 15%. Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Colts (twice), Titans, Raiders.
Los Angeles Chargers 4-6
Thursday: lost to Raiders, 26-24. Post-season probability: 5%. Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs (twice), Minnesota Vikings, Jaguars, Raiders.
Cleveland Browns 3-6
Sunday: edged the Bills, 19-16. Postseason probability: 13%. Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers (twice), Ravens.