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Cleveland Browns Playoff Watch 1.0: In the driver’s seat

Franchise is hot and should finish the season with a winning record

NFL: JAN 12 AFC Divisional Playoff - Texans at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are currently 7-3-0. No, that is not a misprint. Don’t touch that dial. The lunatics still are not in control of the asylum.

Not only are they 7-3-0, but they will control their destiny from this point on. Read that again: the Browns control their destiny with an eye on the playoffs. This season, along with four division winners in the AFC, there will also be awarded an extra Wild Card spot for a total of three.

Before Sunday’s 22-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland was slotted in the eighth position. That is eighth out of seven spots. However, quite a bit happened on the field to assist the Browns’ quest of finally getting back into playoff mode. The Baltimore Ravens lost which owned the sixth spot and now are slotted eighth. The New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders and Miami Dolphins all lost. Each one was Cleveland’s competition for post-season bids.

Will the Browns make the playoffs? Let’s examine what the other teams are doing, and who has the best chances of making the post-season.

Test your own scenario with the ESPN Playoff Machine.

AFC North Division

Pittsburgh Steelers 10-0-0

The Steelers defeated one of the worst clubs in the league this year, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Browns have the Jags on their schedule next week. Pittsburgh was up 17-3 at the half and limited Jacksonville to just 73 yards rushing.

Pittsburgh is 3-0 in the division and 7-0 in conference play and will come down to themselves and the Kansas City Chiefs for that elusive Number 1 seed. It is doubtful the Browns nor Ravens will catch them for the division crown. The Steelers play the Ravens Thanksgiving night in a must-see game. It is difficult to imagine rooting for Pittsburgh, but another Ravens loss would only help the Browns.

Remaining games are the Football Team, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Colts then Browns so there are some games they could definitely lose.

Last five games: 5-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens, Bills, Colts, Browns

Post-season probability: 99%

Cleveland Browns 7-3-0

Beating the Eagles was expected. Wins over the Jaguars and both New York clubs are assumed. The problem games are against the good teams which Cleveland has had issues with this season. The good news, however, is that the Browns have the tie-breaker against one of those good squads, the Indianapolis Colts, and also play the Steelers the final game of the season. This may be a game that Pittsburgh doesn’t care if they win or lose. It will be their last game right before the playoffs and may prefer to rest their starters especially if they have the Number 1 seed all sewn up. So a cheap win is possible.

Baltimore Ravens 6-4-0

With another Baltimore loss Sunday 30-24 to the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens dropped from the sixth seed to the eighth slot. Their game this Thursday against the Steelers is critical. At 2-1 in the division race, a Ravens win would bring Pittsburgh and Baltimore into identical 3-1 division records. Where they are hurting is their conference win-loss record currently at 4-4. This alone may prove to be their biggest hurdle because best win-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference is the second tie-breaker right behind head-to-head games.

Division Leaders

AFC East

Buffalo Bills 7-3-0

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Patriots, Dolphins

Post-season probability: 90%

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts 7-3-0

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Titans, Raiders, Steelers

Post-season probability: 69%

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs 9-1-0

Last five games: 5-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Buccaneers, Dolphins, Saints

Post-season probability: 99%

Philadelphia Eagles v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Wild Cards

#5. Tennessee Titans 7-3-0

Sunday: beat the Ravens 30-24. Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Colts, Browns, Packers

Post-season probability: 82%

#6. Cleveland Browns 7-3-0

Sunday: beat the Eagles 22-17. Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Ravens, Titans

Post-season probability: 74%

#7. Las Vegas Raiders 6-4-0

Sunday: lost to the Chiefs 35-31. Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Colts, Dolphins

Post-season probability: 87%

On the Outside

#8. Baltimore Ravens 6-4-0

Sunday: lost to the Titans 30-24. Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Browns, Cowboys

Post-season probability: 54%

#9. Miami Dolphins 6-4-0

Sunday: lost to Denver Broncos 20-13. Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, Bills

Post-season probability: 39%

#10. Denver Broncos 4-6-0

Sunday: beat the Miami Dolphins 20-13. Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Saints, Chiefs, Panthers, Bills, Raiders

Post-season probability: 2%

Final thought

NFL clubs who have a better win-loss record than the Browns:

Pittsburgh 10-0-0
Kansas City 9-1-0
New Orleans 8-2-0
Cleveland 7-3-0

(tied with six other 7-3 teams)

Looking Ahead: results that could help the Browns

Thursday (note: has been moved to Sunday afternoon)

Steelers over Ravens

Sunday

Falcons over Raiders
Titans over Colts
Cardinals over Patriots
Jets over Dolphins
Saints over Broncos