Yes, it is plain as day. The Browns have a six percent chance of still making the post-season with three games remaining. But did you know they can actually make the playoffs?
Here is how.
First off, Cleveland cannot win the division, but they can get one of the Wild Card spots in the 2019 season. Here is a fact everyone is going to need to know up front: the first two Wild Card tie-breakers are 1) head-to-head, and 2) best conference record. These two points are critical.
The key is the Houston Texans. The reason the Texans are the main cog is because the Tennessee Titans hold the first tie-breaker over the Browns when they defeated Cleveland 43-13 in Week One. The Browns did not play the Texans, so no head-to-head matchup.
Currently, the Texans are tied with the Titans with identical 8-5-0 records in the AFC South Division but the Texans hold the top spot only because the Texans have a 7-3-0 conference record whereas the Titans hold a 6-4-0 conference record. These two clubs play each other twice in the final three weeks. Those two games will determine whether the Browns can make the playoffs or not.
The playoffs consist of four division winners, plus the next two best records regardless of division. The Baltimore Ravens have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs in all likelihood as the AFC North Division winners.
Both the Oakland Raiders (9th seed) and Indianapolis Colts (10th seed) have identical 6-7-0 records as the Browns, but are listed below Cleveland because of a worse conference record. Therefore, with the below scenarios, we are counting both of these clubs out.
Yes, the Browns making the playoffs this year is a Hail Mary. They need a lot of help with other teams beating key conference opponents and on-and-on, and is basically a pipe dream. Part of the below equation is for Cleveland to sweep the NFL’s best club in the Baltimore Ravens who are a totally different football team this time around and that idea in itself should be declared loco. Will all these games fall as the Browns need them to? Yeah, right - getting a date with Jennifer Aniston has better odds.
But if the below occurs, the 2019 Cleveland Browns are indeed in the playoffs. And who doesn’t like a good Hail Mary?
Browns head-to-head tie-breakers:
Browns over Steelers: plus 7
Browns over Bills: plus 3
Browns under Titans: minus 30
Currently after Week 14
Texans first place AFC South, fourth seed, 8-5-0 record, 7-3-0 conference record
Buffalo Bills fifth seed, 9-4-0, 6-3-0
Pittsburgh Steelers sixth seed, 8-5-0, 6-3-0
Titans tied for first place AFC South, seventh seed, 8-5-0, 6-4-0
Browns eighth seed, 6-7-0, 6-4-0
Week 15: Upcoming
Titans defeat Texans, now first place AFC South, up to fourth seed, now 9-5-0 record, 7-4-0 conference
Bills defeat Steelers, remain fifth seed, 10-4-0, 7-4-0
Texans lose to Titans, down to sixth seed, 8-6-0, 7-4-0
Steelers lose to Bills, down to seventh seed, 8-6-0, 6-4-0
Browns defeat Arizona Cardinals, remain eighth seed, 7-7-0, 6-4-0
Titans win or lose to New Orleans Saints, either 10-5-0 or 9-6-0 record, 7-4-0 conference
Texans win or lose to Tampa Bay Buccaneers, either 9-6-0 or 8-7-0, 7-4-0
Steelers win or lose to New York Jets, either 9-6-0 or 8-7-0, either 7-4-0 or 6-5-0
Bills win or lose to New England Patriots, either 11-4-0 or 10-5-0, either 8-4-0 or 7-5-0
Browns defeat Baltimore Ravens, 8-7-0, 7-4-0
Titans defeat Texans, clinch AFC South, fourth seed, either 11-5-0 or 10-6-0 record, 8-4-0 conference
Bills defeat Jets, remain fifth seed, either 12-4-0 or 11-5-0, either 9-4-0 or 8-5-0
Browns defeat Cincinnati Bengals, up to sixth seed, 9-7-0, 8-4-0
Texans lose to Titans, down to seventh seed, either 9-7-0 or 8-8-0, 7-5-0
Steelers lose to Ravens, down to eighth seed, either 9-7-0 or 8-8-0, either 7-5-0 or 6-6-0
The Titans must win the AFC South because they hold the head-to-head tie-breaker against Cleveland. The Bills take the first Wild Card and fifth seed. If after Week 17 the Browns, Steelers and Texans all have identical 9-7-0 records, the Browns own the tie-breaker over the Steelers, and the Browns would hold an 8-4-0 conference record to the Texans’ 7-5-0.
If any of these clubs lose in Week 16, it’s considered a plus, but not a necessity. The end result:
1) Browns must win out to finish 9-7-0 and hold an 8-4-0 conference record
2) Titans must win AFC South
3) Texans must lose two of last three games.
4) Steelers must lose two of last three games
5) Bills can win or lose any of their remaining games
6) If the Browns win out, it does not matter what happens with Oakland or Indianapolis
7) There are other scenarios, but what makes the above the best trail is that the Bills are a very good team and in all likelihood will not lose out and go 9-7-0, the Texans have been a roller coaster lately whereas the Steelers are not a good football team; thus makes these two clubs the most likely to fail down the stretch.
If Cleveland can win out and have the right help at the right time, then the Browns can take that six percent and turn it into another six: sixth seed.