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Playoff Watch 5.0: Browns officially eliminated

Wait until next year

The Cleveland Browns were officially eliminated from the 2021 post-season after several key contests did not go their way. This is in spite of Cleveland’s two remaining games and were the 12th seed heading into this weekend’s games. Only seven clubs make the playoffs.

The Browns best method to make the post-season going into today’s games was to win the AFC North Division outright. But this meant the division-leading Bengals would have to lose both of their remaining matches against the Kansas City Chiefs and then the Browns in the finale at Cleveland.

Two other games impacted the Browns playoff hopes and assisted their elimination.

This year’s efforts was so much more devastating and will be viewed as a complete disappointment. Cleveland went from Super Bowl contenders with a high-flying offense and improved defense to an anemic offense and not even getting a Wild Card spot with several games to play.

Today is like Christmas Eve on the Island of Misfit Toys sitting around the camp fire when they realize that Santa isn’t coming once again.

Bengals vs. Chiefs

The Chiefs were up 21-7 and 28-14 in the second quarter and appeared to be on their way to a convincing win. However, Bengals rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase had a field day with 266 yards receiving on just 11 receptions. QB Joe Burrow had his second consecutive sensational game with 30 receptions on 39 attempts for a whooping 446 yards with four touchdown passes without any interceptions in the 34-31 victory.

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kansas City scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives while the Bengals began the game with two punts.

The Bengals defense stiffened in the second half and the game was a tale of two teams on both sidelines. The Chiefs had issues moving the ball while Cincinnati completely eliminated speedster Tyreek Hill from the equation which limited their offense.

Cincinnati could not run, but with Burrow and the lack of coverage on Chase, they didn’t have to. Down 28-17 at the half, the Bengals took the ball first in the third stanza and went 75-yards in five plays. Well, sort of. Cincy had six yards while Chase scampered 69-yards on an electrifying touchdown to close the gap to 28-24.

The Bengals defense forced two Chiefs punts, then Cincinnati’s offense scored again on a five-yard strike to receiver Tyler Boyd for their first lead of the day 31-28. The Chiefs drove the field for a game-tying field goal.

That gave Cincinnati 6:01 left on the clock. After several short pass completions, with 4:21 left and in shotgun formation, Burrow’s deep right pass to Chase went for 35 yards to Kansas City’s 24. Basically the game was over at this point. The Bengals did have two fourth-and-goal plays at the one, but an illegal use of hands penalty on cornerback L’Jarius Sneed gave Cincy a first down at the one who simply ran down the clock before kicking a chip shot field goal to seal the win.

The loss by Kansas City enabled them to lose their Number 1 seed to the Tennessee Titans heading into the final week of play.

Cincinnati’s win captured the AFC North Division, and thus eliminated one avenue for the Browns.

Raiders vs. Colts

The Indianapolis Colts were in a dogfight for the AFC South Division with the Tennessee Titans. Coming into this game at 9-6-0, their chances appeared decent although they had lost both division games with Tennessee but had beaten some very good clubs such as Buffalo, New England, Miami and Arizona but lost today 23-20 at home.

The score was just 13-10 at the half as neither team could drive the ball and defenses ruled.

Las Vegas Raiders v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Colts took the second half kickoff and marched down the field in just nine plays as signalcaller Carson Wentz hit T.Y. Hilton at the 11:38 mark on a pass deep right that went for 45-yards and a touchdown and a 17-13 lead. A Raiders interception and three punts for both squads ended the third quarter.

With the Raiders first possession in the final stanza, Derek Carr hit Hunter Renfrow on an 11-yard square out route to re-take the lead. Both teams added field goals as Indy could not stop Las Vegas on their final drive which ate up the final 1:56 of clock with 60-yards gained on 11 plays.

The win placed the Raiders at 9-7-0. They had beaten the Browns 16-14 in Week 15 which gave Las Vegas the tie-breaker over Cleveland in the event the Browns finished with the same record.

Chargers vs. Broncos

Just like the Raiders contest, the Chargers were 8-7-0 going into this game against Denver. The Broncos were no match today as they fell 34-13.

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Los Angeles was up 20-3 going into the final quarter. The Broncos kicked a 23-yard field goal on the last play of the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Chargers return man Andre Roberts took the ball minus one into the end zone, then took it to the house for a dominating 27-6 lead.

The two teams traded touchdowns on their next possessions. Los Angeles then took the ball with 6:31 left in the game and ran the out the clock.

The win upped the Raiders record to 9-7-0. Having defeated Cleveland 47-42 in Week 5 gave the Chargers the tie-breaker in the event these two teams finished the season with the same record.

In the 2022 NFL draft, Cleveland will be drafting anywhere from the 12th to 16th slot.