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NFL Power Rankings: Browns holding onto hope heading into Week 17

The Browns will know by Monday Night if they control their own destiny.

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Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 17 of the 2021 NFL season.

CBS Sports - No. 20 (down 2 spots)

Baker Mayfield throwing four interceptions with the season on the line against the Packers is not a good look. They are long shots to make the playoffs now.

ESPN - No. 20 (down 2 spots)

Non-QB MVP: DE Myles Garrett

Whether or not he becomes the Browns’ first NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Garrett has certainly been Cleveland’s MVP this season on the way to breaking the franchise’s season sack record. From his 4.5-sack performance in Week 3 against Chicago to his strip, sack and score in Week 14’s win over Baltimore, Garrett has been an absolute force. In a race with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt for the NFL sack title, Garrett trails only Watt in the league in pass rush win rate (25.8%). Though he has been fighting through a groin injury lately, Garrett has been among the NFL’s top overall performers all season. - No. 17 (no change

Run. The. Ball. Kevin. Down by 2 points and with a massive upset victory in sight at Lambeau Field, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski opted to put his faith in Baker Mayfield rather than Nick Chubb. The result was calamitous: Mayfield’s final pass attempt — his fifth consecutive throw on the game-deciding drive — was picked off by Rasul Douglas to ensure a 24-22 loss. It was Mayfield’s fourth interception of the game, and it came on an afternoon when Chubb was running through Packers arm tackles with regularity. Stefanski is a talented offensive mind, but it’s time to understand the limitations of this quarterback and ride with the actual star of Cleveland’s attack.

Sporting News - No. 20 (down 4 spots)

The Browns didn’t beat the Packers, but looked more like a potential playoff team in pushing the NFC’s best team to the limit. They need Baker Mayfield to stay hot passing but clean up a few things to better support the running game. Perhaps that’s the kind of loss that can spark them for one true last gasp.

Yahoo Sports - No. 16 (down 2 spots)

Every game Baker Mayfield plays will be a judgment on his second contract. That’s where we are. And the loss against the Packers wasn’t good for him. But if the Browns beat the Steelers, the Chiefs beat the Bengals and the Ravens lose to the Rams in Week 17, we’re looking at a Week 18 showdown (likely on Sunday night) between the Browns and Bengals for the AFC North title. It could be worse.

Bleacher Report - No. 17 (down 2 spots)

No team has mastered the art of disappointment quite like the Cleveland Browns. In a game against the Green Bay Packers that the Browns absolutely had to have, Cleveland outgained the NFC’s No. 1 seed by almost 100 yards. Running back Nick Chubb spear-headed a ground attack that racked up well over 200 yards. And none of that mattered even a little, because Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw four interceptions.

Mayfield didn’t shy from blame while speaking to reporters after the game.

“It was just missed throws,” Mayfield said. “Uncharacteristic, and I hurt this team. That’s the most frustrating thing for me, because I thought our defense played tremendous against a really, really good offense. But when you turn the ball over on your own territory, in the red zone and around midfield and give them extra opportunities, they’re going to take advantage of it.”

At 7-8, Cleveland’s hopes for a second straight trip to the postseason aren’t completely dashed. But in addition to needing wins at Pittsburgh next week and at home against the Bengals in the regular season finale, the Browns need quite a few things to break the right way. And Cleveland isn’t the sort of team that generally gets lucky breaks.

USA Today - No. 20 (up 1 spot)

QB Baker Mayfield has nearly $19 million guaranteed coming his way in 2022. Despite his generally uneven play through four seasons, good bet he’ll be in Cleveland for a fifth.

Listed below is a summary table of where teams in the AFC North are ranked this week.

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 8 20 14 18
ESPN 10 20 14 19 9 17 19 20
Sporting News 10 20 14 16
Yahoo Sports 11 16 17 19
Bleacher Report 9 17 19 18
USA Today 10 20 18 21
Average 9.6
(up 3.3)
(down 1.5)
(down 2.0)
(down 2.4)