In so many ways, the Browns season could have been more than that. Despite a bad defense, despite Deshaun Watson being suspended for 11 games, despite special teams struggles and despite a bunch of injuries, Cleveland’s season could have been so much different in Week 18 if just a little bit went differently.
Of the Browns nine losses this season, four were mostly non-competitive games that they didn’t really have a great chance of winning as the game went on. Five others were tight games where very simple things could have changed the outcome. Some were simpler than others and some will haunt Cleveland fans all offseason.
Had the Browns won just one of these games, Cleveland and Pittsburgh would be in the exact same situation in Week 18. Both teams would need things to go their way to make the playoffs but would be playing for a winning record and a chance to make the playoffs.
If two of these five games would have gone the Browns way, they would control their own destiny going into Week 18.
This is how we’d rank those five and which was the worst:
5. Ravens Run Out the Clock in Week 7
A close game that the Browns lost 23-20, where Baltimore controlled the clock by running the ball 44 times. While they didn’t have a great overage (3.6), they were able to do just enough with Cade York’s blocked 60-yard field goal attempt with just over two minutes left ending the team’s hopes.
4. Backup Backs Control Game Versus Falcons
With Cordarrelle Patterson active but missing most of the game, Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley combined for 20 rushes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Despite Marcus Mariota struggling to complete passes, Cleveland’s defense couldn’t make stops giving up 5.8 yards per carry to lose 23-20
3. Saints March Out with Win as Dropped Passes in Frigid Tempatuares Doom Browns
The most recent of the five, New Orleans was able to run the ball and, mostly, stop Cleveland from running the ball for big chunks in horrible weather. Three drops, one each from Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku sunk the team’s hopes of getting a victory.
2. Missed Field Goal to End the Game Versus the Chargers
This one is simple, against a very good Los Angeles Chargers team, Cleveland just needed York to make a 54-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in the game. It went wide right, the game was over.
1. Abject Failure versus the Jets
None of us want to relive this one but all of us know the story. Cleveland just needed to do one of three things in Week 2 to get the victory: Nick Chubb goes out of bounds instead of scoring (can’t blame him too much), someone be in the vicinity of Corey Davis on his 66-yard touchdown reception or recover the onside kick. Just one of those three things and Week 18 would look significantly different.
How would you rate these five close Browns losses in terms of which is the worst?
Is it surprising to you how close this team was to having a playoff season looking at these five games?