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Playoff Watch 3.0: From (possible) first to last (ultimately)

Browns still have a chance, although slim

The Cleveland Browns had the unthinkable occur during the Raiders game: it was revealed that if they won the contest, they would be all alone atop the AFC North Division. In first place. With just about every tie-breaker on their side.

Until they lost 16-14 on the final play. Now? Last place in the division, a horrible 4-6 conference record, and the slimmest of chances to get into the post-season.

It was all there and would have been a great Cinderella story. Cleveland had risen from the 12th seed to 11th to 8th, and with a victory over Las Vegas would not only have catapulted into the top slot in the division, but would have suddenly become the 4th seed. And if they could have somehow managed to keep it, that would have meant a home playoff game plus their very first division crown since the AFC North was invented.

Where do the Browns stand? At this point, they will need to go 3-0 in their final games to have any chance of a playoff bid.


AFC North Division

#4 seed Cincinnati Bengals 8-6-0

Surprise, surprise, surprise. The Bengals won 15-10 this past weekend over the Denver Broncos, the Browns and Ravens lost and lo and behold, these facts catapulted Cincinnati into the top spot in the division, and also with the fourth seed. The good news is that they are 3-1 in the division and an astounding 6-3 in conference play which is the second tie-breaker.

Division crown probability: 38% (up 17%)

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens, Chiefs, Browns

Post-season probability: 50% (up 14%)

NFL: DEC 12 Ravens at Browns Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens 8-6-0

Just a month ago, Baltimore was several games in first place and appeared to run away with the division. Then they went 3-5 in their next eight games and it appears the bottom has dropped out. They lost their last three games and are a sad 1-3 for the division and 5-5 in conference play.

Division crown probability: 40% (down 11%)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals, Rams, Steelers

Post-season probability: 57% (down 17%)

Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-1

The Steelers are just one half game out of first place in the division. They also have a brutal remaining schedule ahead.

Pittsburgh has the farthest journey to make the playoffs and even if they win out, they just might not. Currently 2-2 in the division and 5-4 in conference play.

Division crown probability: 11% (up 5%)

Last five games: 2-3-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs, Browns, Ravens

Post-season probability: 18% (up 5%)

Las Vegas Raiders v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns 7-7-0

The Browns dropped from second in the division with the possibility of overtaking first place, to dead last once again this year. COVID played its part in the loss to Las Vegas, but Cleveland could have won if they had gotten two first downs in the final minutes yet were more focused on not stopping the clock with an incomplete pass rather than getting those valuable first down conversions.

They hold a 2-2 division record but need help with their conference record which is currently 4-6. Cleveland is 4-6 in their last 10 games.

Division crown probability: 12% (down 9%)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Packers, Steelers, Bengals

Post-season probability: 15% (down 22%)


AFC East

#2 seed New England Patriots 9-5-0 (down one seed)

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Bills, Dolphins

Post-season probability: 98% (down 1%)

AFC South

#3 seed Tennessee Titans 9-5-0 (down one seed)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: 49ers, Dolphins

Post-season probability: 95% (down 4%)

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cleveland Browns Set Number: X163794 TK1

AFC West

#1 seed Kansas City Chiefs 10-4-0 (up two seeds)

Last five games: 5-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Bengals, Broncos

Post-season probability: 99% (up 2%)


Wild Cards

#5. Indianapolis Colts 8-6-0 (up one seed)

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Cardinals, Raiders

Post-season probability: 89% (up 28%)

#6. Los Angeles Chargers 8-6-0 (down one seed)

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

Post-season probability: 76% (down 5%)

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

#7. Buffalo Bills 8-6-0

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

Post-season probability: 76% (up 11%)


On the Outside

#8. Baltimore Ravens 8-6-0 (down four seeds)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals, Rams, Steelers

Post-season probability: 57% (down 17%)

#9. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-1 (up two seeds)

Last five games: 2-3-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs, Browns, Ravens

Post-season probability: 18% (up 5%)

Las Vegas Raiders v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

#10. Las Vegas Raiders 7-7-0 (up two seeds)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Broncos, Colts, Chargers

Post-season probability: 11% (up 3%)

#11. Miami Dolphins 7-7-0 (up two seeds)

Last five games: 5-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Patriots, Titans

Post-season probability: 11% (up 5%)

Las Vegas Raiders v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

#12. Cleveland Browns 7-7-0 (down four seeds)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Packers, Steelers, Bengals

Post-season probability: 15% (down 22%)

#13. Denver Broncos 7-7-0 (down three seeds)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Raiders, Chargers, Chiefs

Post-season probability: 5% (down 17%)


Week 16 looking ahead: Results that could help the Browns

Thursday

49ers over Titans

Saturday

Browns over Packers

Cardinals over Colts

Sunday

Ravens over Bengals

Patriots over Bills

Texans over Chargers

Broncos over Raiders

Monday

Saints over Dolphins