Because the Browns beat division opponent Cincinnati Bengals 24-19 in Sunday’s game, they are still a viable candidate to make this year’s playoffs. However, they will need a ton of help. Enough with the chit chat - let’s get right to it.
Cleveland Browns 6-7-0
The good news is that the Browns won while the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders all lost. The bad news is the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans also had victories.
To have any chance to make the playoffs, first off Cleveland will have to win out and end up with a 9-7-0 record. Mathematically, the Browns are still in the hunt and certainly a record of nine wins does not guarantee that they get into the post season. Their last three games are at the Arizona Cardinals (3-9-1), home against the Baltimore Ravens (11-2-0), and on the road against Cincinnati (1-12-0).
The Browns cannot win the division. Oddly enough, both Wild Card slots are up for grabs. The most likely scenario is the sixth spot with the second Wild Card as their only option with three games to go. Oddly enough, the Browns currently own tie-breakers against the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills.
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 11-2-0
The Ravens have already clinched a playoff spot and is just a matter of time until they win the division. They are really good. Neither the Browns nor the Pittsburgh Steelers will catch them.
The Ravens are currently on a nine game winning streak with a stud quarterback and a sensational running attack. On their schedule next are the New York Jets (5-8-0), followed by the Browns before closing out against the Steelers (8-5-0). Post-season probability: 100% (up 1%).
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-5-0
The Steelers can still win the division with quite a few denominators, but are more primed to take one of the Wild Card slots. With Buffalo losing Sunday while the red hot Steelers have won four of their last five games, they could actually take over the fifth seed, or could not even make the playoffs.
Looking ahead at Pittsburgh’s schedule, they play the Bills (9-4-0) in a crucial game for both clubs, Jets (5-8-0) and finish out against the Ravens. Pittsburgh is 3-2 in the division.
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.
WC1: Buffalo Bills 9-4-0
Sunday: lost to the Ravens 24-17. Last week, number 5. Post-season probability: 95% (up 1%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, New England Patriots.
WC2: Pittsburgh Steelers 8-5-0
Sunday: defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-17. Last week, number 6. Post-season probability: 67% (up 12%). Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Bills, Ravens.
7. Tennessee Titans 8-5-0
Sunday: defeated the Oakland Raiders 42-21. Last week, number 7. The Titans are now tied record-wise for first place in the AFC South with the Houston Texans, who hold a one-game advantage in the conference for the tie-breaker. The two clubs play each other twice in the next three weeks. Post-season probability: 52% (up 24%). Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Texans (twice), New Orleans Saints.
8. Cleveland Browns 6-7-0
Sunday: defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 24-19. Last week number 10. Post-season probability: 5% (down 1%). Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens.
9. Oakland Raiders 6-7-0
Sunday: lost to the Titans 42-21. Last week number 8. Post-season probability: 2% (down 18%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Jaguars, Broncos.
10. Indianapolis Colts 6-7-0
Sunday: lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-36. Last week number 9. Post-season probability: 1% (down 5%). Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Saints, Carolina Panthers.
11. Denver Broncos 5-8-0
Sunday: defeated the Houston Texans 38-24. Last week number 12. Post-season probability: 1% (even). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs.
Los Angeles Chargers
New York Jets
Who to root for in Week 15?
Buffalo over Pittsburgh
New Orleans over Indianapolis
Cleveland over Arizona
Jacksonville over Oakland
Tennessee over Houston
Kansas City over Denver