CBS Sports - No. 20 (no change)
They found a way to beat the Bengals - it wasn’t pretty - to keep their playoff hopes alive. They have a winnable game at Arizona this week.
ESPN - No. 19 (up 1 spot)
It’s hard to believe an offense with Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry could rank outside the top 15 in the NFL. But ineffective playcalling, inconsistent pass protection and chemistry issues at the skill positions have doomed Cleveland’s passing attack, which has doomed the offense -- and the Browns’ playoff chances.
NFL.com - No. 17 (up 1 spot)
The Browns kept their faint playoff hopes alive on Sunday with a win over the Bengals, but controversy continues to be what this team does best. Baker Mayfield threw his training staff under the bus after the game, telling reporters he didn’t believe Odell Beckham Jr.’s core injury has been handled correctly by the team. It felt like an atrociously misguided attempt at teammate support by the quarterback, who quickly walked the comments back on social media. Speaking of Beckham, reports by Yahoo’s Charles Robinson and FOX’s Jay Glazer fuel the fire that the wide receiver could be one-and-done in Cleveland. You would imagine the Browns would be able to get good value for Beckham on the open market, but would it match what they gave to the Giants to land the enigmatic star? Beckham is under contract through 2023, but he holds the cards.
Leave it to the Browns to make a win feel like a loss. OBJ is hurt, Baker thinks it’s the team’s fault, Freddie won’t shut him down and Odell? Answering questions about his future as cryptically as possible. Winning four of their last five should be the focus, but that’s just not the way she goes in Cleveland this season.
Yahoo Sports - No. 19 (up 2 spots)
The Browns won and their playoff odds, via Football Outsiders, barely moved. They’re still just 5.4 percent to make the postseason, because the Steelers and Titans got wins too. And then they’ll face an interesting offseason answering the Odell Beckham question that is sure to dominate headlines.
Here we go again. After downing the hapless Bengals on Sunday to get to 6-7 for the season, there will be talk of the Cleveland Browns remaining part of the playoff picture in the AFC. Allow us to dismiss that notion right now. Yes, the Browns won in Week 14. But it was an ugly victory punctuated by the kinds of problems that have affected the team all season long.
Baker Mayfield threw two interceptions and would have had three had a defensive pass interference call not wiped one out. He also completed less than half of his passes. The play-calling was again atrocious—despite facing the league’s worst run defense, the Browns all but ignored the run game in the first half. Odell Beckham Jr.’s disappointing season continued—he had just two catches for 39 yards. The Browns have talent. They may well get back to .500 with a win in Arizona next week. But Cleveland remains much more pretender than contender.
Associated Press - No. 21 (down 2 spots)
Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.