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Playoff watch 4.0: Descending into the abyss

Every week the Browns’ playoff hopes go more faint, but there is hope

Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Browns have lost three of their last four games. Down the stretch. With playoff implications on the line.

The Browns had the opportunity to be in first place in the AFC North Division but continued losses have set them in last place instead.

Unthinkable as it may seem at this point, Cleveland can still win the division or even capture the seventh and final seed.

Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cleveland is 7-8-0 and currently has an 11% chance of winning the division and also making the playoffs. The tougher road will be to capture that elusive seventh seed. The best route is to actually win the AFC North. But in either scenario, any loss in the final two games will eliminate the Browns.

Going into Sunday’s game, this was the avenue needed for the Browns to capture the division:

Week 16

Bengals over Ravens (Cincinnati won 41-21)

Chiefs over Steelers (Chiefs won 36-10)

Current Standings:

Bengals 9-6-0

Ravens 8-7-0

Steelers 7-7-1

Browns 7-8-0

Week 17

Chiefs over Bengals

Browns over Steelers

Rams over Ravens (game moved to 1:00pm Eastern)

Proposed new standings:

Bengals 9-7-0

Ravens 8-8-0

Browns 8-8-0

Steelers 7-8-1

Week 18

Browns over Bengals

Steelers over Ravens

Proposed final standings:

Browns 9-8-0

Bengals 9-8-0

Steelers 8-8-1

Ravens 8-9-0

Currently, the Browns have the head-to-head tie-breaker against Cincinnati because of their 41-16 win in Week 9 plus now the Week 18 win so the Browns win the division. Cleveland does have the tie-breaker against the Ravens despite their split. The Steelers currently have the tie-breaker on the Browns by virtue of their 15-10 triumph in Week 8 plus that half-game could create some positives for Pittsburgh as long as they win out.

And there is a chance they can get in via the seventh seed, however, at this point those game scenarios are endless so DBN will wait until after Week 17 to make sense of it.

Where do the Browns stand currently? At this point, they will need to go 2-0 in their final games to have any chance of a playoff bid.


AFC North Division

#3 seed Cincinnati Bengals 9-6-0 (up one seed)

Winning cures everything and Cincinnati is one of the hottest teams in the league. The Bengals took care of business with a well-deserved beat down of the Ravens 41-21. And with the Patriots getting beaten two weeks in a row, Cincy went from the fourth seed to #3. The good news is that they are 4-1 in the division and an astounding 7-3 in conference play which is the second tie-breaker. This club definitely controls their own destiny. Another plus for the Bengals is that every team in the division has been losing most of their games lately.

NFL: NOV 07 Browns at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Division crown probability: 72 % (up 34%)

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

Post-season probability: 79% (up 29%)

Baltimore Ravens 8-7-0

Wasn’t it just recently that Baltimore was several games in first place in the division? Can the absence of just one guy, Lamar Jackson, be that drastic to this offense? This club has fallen off the face of the AFC landscape with losing four in a row and six of their final nine games. The Ravens are a horrible 1-4 for the division and 5-6 in conference play. But despite these factors, they are sitting in second place and just one game out of first.

Division crown probability: 11% (down 29%)

Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Rams, Steelers

Post-season probability: 36% (down 21%)

Pittsburgh Steelers 7-7-1

The Steelers are in trouble and must win out and a lot of other scenarios to even think about the post-season. The good news for them is that final two contests are against division foes so they at least have a say in their destiny, the only thing they can control at this point. Currently 2-2 in the division and 5-5 in conference play.

Division crown probability: 6% (down 5%)

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

Post-season probability: 13% (down 5%)

Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns 7-8-0

The Browns have definitely hurt themselves at the tail end of the schedule. They must win out and hope other games go their way. Capturing the seventh seed is a huge predicament, but winning the division still remains in play although will need some help. They hold a 2-2 division record but need help with their conference record which is currently 4-6. Cleveland is 4-7 in their last 11 games.

Division crown probability: 11% (down 1%)

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

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


AFC East

#4 seed Buffalo Bills 9-6-0 (up three seeds)

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: none

Post-season probability: 99% (up 23%)

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

AFC South

#2 seed Tennessee Titans 10-5-0 (up one seed)

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

Post-season probability: 99% (up 4%)

AFC West

#1 seed Kansas City Chiefs 11-4-0

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

Post-season probability: Already clinched playoff spot, clinched division


Wild Cards

#5. Indianapolis Colts 9-6-0

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

Post-season probability: 97% (up 9%)

Cleveland Browns v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

#6. New England Patriots 9-6-0 (down three seeds)

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

Post-season probability: 96% (up 20%)

#7. Miami Dolphins 8-7-0 (up three seeds)

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

Post-season probability: 32% (up 21%)


On the Outside

#8. Los Angeles Chargers 8-7-0 (down three seeds)

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

Post-season probability: 36% (down 40%)

#9. Las Vegas Raiders 8-7-0 (up one seed)

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

Post-season probability: 17% (up 6%)

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

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

Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Rams, Steelers

Post-season probability: 36% (down 21%)

#11. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-7-1 (down two seeds)

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

Post-season probability: 13% (down 5%)

Cleveland Browns v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

#12. Cleveland Browns 7-8-0

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

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

#13. Denver Broncos 7-8-0

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

Post-season probability: 1% (down 4%)


Week 17 looking ahead: Results that could help the Browns

Sunday

Falcons over Bills

Chiefs over Bengals

Titans over Dolphins

Colts over Raiders

Broncos over Chargers

Rams over Ravens

Monday

Browns over Steelers