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Playoff Watch 2.0 – Where do the Browns stand?

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Cleveland will needs lots of help with their post-season optimism

After a key victory over division foe Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Browns now have a record of 4-6-0. This is nothing to brag about, but decidedly the Browns remain in the division hunt as well as have an opportunity to become one of the two AFC Wild Cards.

What should be noted is that three of the Browns’ wins were against good teams, and two of those clubs will almost assuredly make the playoffs - Baltimore and Buffalo. Cleveland has a two-game win streak and are 2-0 in the division plus hold tie-breakers against both the Ravens and Steelers.

Can the Browns find a way to make the playoffs this year? That answer dangles, but each week teams ahead of Cleveland win games despite the Browns’ recent success. Next up on the schedule is the lowly Miami Dolphins so it is plausible that the Browns could win their third in a row.

Let’s examine what the other teams are doing, and who has the greatest probabilities of making the post-season.

AFC North Division

Baltimore Ravens 8-2-0

Did Baltimore just dismantle the AFC South Division leader Houston Texans Sunday with a convincing 41-7 victory? Well, yeh. That is two weeks in a row that the Ravens offense has scored 40 or more points. They lead with a 3-1-0 division record. The bad news is that their single division loss was at home to the Browns. The rematch is set for December 22 in Cleveland.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

Just saying, the Ravens are red hot. They are currently riding a six-game winning streak. On their schedule next is the up-and-down Los Angeles Rams (6-4-0), San Francisco 49ers (9-1-0) and Buffalo Bills (7-3-0), then one easy game against the New York Jets (2-7-0), followed by the Browns before closing out against the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-0). Baltimore has beaten many of the league’s toughest squads such as the Steelers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and now the Texans.

They will more than likely capture the division and with the Browns taking down Pittsburgh last week they have a commanding lead. Post-season probability: 97% (up 7%).

Pittsburgh Steelers 5-5-0

The Steelers’ loss to the Browns last Thursday night certainly placed a dagger into their playoff hopes. That one loss may have cost them any chance of catching Baltimore for the division as well. Now, the Browns are just one game back of Pittsburgh, and currently own the tie-breaker scenario with both the Steelers and the Ravens.

Looking ahead at their schedule, they play the hapless Cincinnati Bengals, then the Helmetgate rematch with the Browns in Cleveland, Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1), Bills, Jets and finish out against the Ravens. Pittsburgh is 1-2 in the division.

Wild Cards

There are numerous clubs who have a good chance of getting into the post-season through either of the two Wild Card berths - all currently with better records than the Browns.

Buffalo Bills 7-3-0

Sunday: defeated the Miami Dolphins 37-20. Post-season probability: 72% (up 11%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Dallas Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, Patriots.

Indianapolis Colts 6-4-0

Sunday: defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-13. Post-season probability: 46% (up 12%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Texans, Titans, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Jaguars.

Oakland Raiders 6-4-0

Sunday: defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 17-10. Currently they are one game back of the Kansas City Chiefs for first place in the AFC West. The Chiefs own the tie-breaker with a 28-10 victory in both club’s second game. One of these two teams should capture the division and the other has a good shot at a Wild Card spot. Post-season probability: 60% (up 2%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs, Tennessee Titans.

Pittsburgh Steelers 5-5-0

Thursday: lost to the Browns 21-7. Post-season probability: 34% (down 23%). Currently, the Steelers have the conference tie-breaker against the Ravens and their hopes now are almost purely for a Wild Card. Last five games: 4-1.

Tennessee Titans 5-5-0

This week: bye. Post-season probability: 15% (up 1%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Raiders, Jaguars, Colts, Texans (twice), Saints.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns 4-6-0

Thursday: defeated the Steelers 21-7. Post-season probability: 21% (up 9%). Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Ravens.

Jacksonville Jaguars 4-6-0

Sunday: lost to the Colts 33-13. Post-season probability: 5% (down 10%). Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Colts, Titans, Raiders, Chargers.

Los Angeles Chargers 4-7-0

Monday: lost to Chiefs 24-17. Post-season probability: 1% (down 4%). Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Jaguars, Raiders.