If the Browns had beaten Pittsburgh Sunday and swept the series, this article would be lard deep in playoff scenarios and how the AFC South would affect Cleveland’s chances of securing that second Wild Card berth. But alas, the Steelers ruined another party and won 20-13.
Mathematically, the Browns are still in the hunt. And as long as they are not eliminated, here at DBN we will put together what their current chances are and what needs to be done.
The Baltimore Ravens will win the division. The Buffalo Bills will become the number one Wild Card club. That only leaves the second Wild Card slot. Will it be easy? Almost impossible. Can it happen? Not likely.
The best the Browns can hope for is a 9-7-0 record. Perhaps 8-8-0 is more of a goal and another 7-9-0 season is not out of the question. But each week is critical. The loss to the Steelers probably did them in.
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 10-2-0
The Ravens are good and have zero issues staying – and beating – the league’s other better clubs. They are pretty much a lock to win the division. Baltimore has an excellent running game with Mark Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has been in the discussion for league MVP for weeks. And he should be.
The Ravens average 33.8 points a game and are currently on an eight game winning streak with victories over the San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks and the Steelers. Their only losses have been to the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Browns. They are currently the number one ranked club in the NFL.
On their schedule next are the equally red hot Buffalo Bills (9-3-0), then one easy game against the New York Jets (4-8-0), followed by the Browns before closing out against the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-0). Post-season probability: 99% (up 2%).
Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5-0
The Steelers were down 10-0 and it appeared the Browns would walk all over them. Their starting quarterback, best wide receiver and their stud running back were all hurt and did not play. Their starting center was still on suspension. Pittsburgh was starting their third string signalcaller for gosh sakes. But, that’s why they play the games.
Pittsburgh’s offense is abysmal, yet scored 20 points like it was a high school game. Cleveland had inched their way back into the playoff picture and was just one game behind the Steelers in the division. A win would have placed the Browns either in the sixth or seventh slot with high playoff aspirations.
Looking ahead at Pittsburgh’s schedule, they play the Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1), Buffalo Bills (9-3-0), New York Jets (4-8-0) 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 9-3-0
Thursday: defeated the Dallas Cowboys 26-15. The Bills are one game out of first place in the AFC East and still remain the number one Wild Card seed. Post-season probability: 94% (up 12%). Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens, Steelers, New England Patriots.
WC2: Pittsburgh Steelers 7-5-0
Sunday: defeated the Browns 20-13. Currently, the Steelers hold onto the second playoff slot. Post-season probability: 54% (up 16%). Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Bills, Ravens.
7. Tennessee Titans 7-5-0
Sunday: defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. Last week, number 9. The Titans are now one game out of first-place in the AFC South. Post-season probability: 28% (up 8%). Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Raiders, Texans (twice), Saints.
8. Oakland Raiders 6-6-0
Sunday: lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 40-9. Last week number 7. Post-season probability: 20% (down 15%). Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Jaguars.
9. Indianapolis Colts 6-6
Sunday: lost to the Titans 31-17. Last week number 8. Post-season probability: 6% (down 21%). Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars.
10. Cleveland Browns 5-7-0
Sunday: lost to the Steelers 20-13. Last week number 10. Post-season probability: 6% (down 21%). Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens.
11, Jacksonville Jaguars 4-8-0
Sunday: lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-11. Last week number 11. Post-season probability: 1% (even). Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Colts, Raiders, Chargers.
12. Denver Broncos 4-8-0
Sunday: defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 23-20. Last week number 14. Post-season probability: 1% (even). Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Texans, Raiders, Chiefs.
Who to root for in Week 14?
Baltimore over Buffalo
Tampa Bay over Indianapolis
Cleveland over Cincinnati
Tampa Bay over Jacksonville
Arizona over Pittsburgh
LA Chargers over Jacksonville
Oakland over Tennessee
Houston over Denver