The Cleveland Browns missed an opportunity to enhance their playoff chances on Sunday in Seattle.
While a loss to an NFC team is not the end of the world, the defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in a game where the Browns led just before the two-minute warning was discouraging all the same.
A win would have kept the Browns on pace with the Baltimore Ravens in the loss column and one game up on both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Now, the Browns (4-3) find themselves in a three-way tie with the Steelers and the suddenly resurgent Bengals in the AFC North.
Updated AFC playoff seeding race: pic.twitter.com/oltkWmkbvE— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) October 30, 2023
After all the dust cleared from last week’s slate of games, the Browns would still be in the playoffs as the No. 7 seed if the season were to end today. In addition to the Steelers and the Bengals, the New York Jets are part of the four teams sitting at four wins, with the Browns and the Steelers holding the tiebreakers.
The Browns are back at it this week as they host the Arizona Cardinals (1-7) as an eight-point favorite by DraftKings. Cleveland’s playoff chances currently reside at 41 percent, but a win against the Cardinals bumps the Browns up to 50 percent, while a loss drops them down to just 28 percent, according to The New York Times.
Once again let’s dive in this week’s games with a handy rooting guide for Browns fans.
Tennessee Titans (3-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Things open up on Thursday night for the second consecutive week with the Titans, fresh off a big win behind rookie quarterback Will Levis, taking on a Steelers team that was smacked around by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers may be starting quarterback Kenny Pickett just four days after he left the game against Jacksonville with sore ribs. Root for the Titans
Miami Dolphins (6-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)
Sunday morning brings a nice appetizer before the Browns game as the Dolphins and Chiefs face off in Frankfurt, Germany. Miami and Kansas City are both fighting for the top seed in the AFC, and the outcome will likely have only a small impact on the Browns given that they are not in contention at the moment for the No. 1 seed, although a Miami win boosts Cleveland’s playoff odds every so slightly. Root for the Dolphins
Seattle Seahawks (5-2) at Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
The Seahawks are getting all excited about themselves and rallying to beat the Browns and third-string quarterback P.J. Walker last week, while the Ravens took care of business against the Cardinals in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate. Baltimore is in a four-way tie at the top of the AFC but in the No. 4 playoff seed due to tiebreakers, and dealing with a bit of a me-first attitude from one of their players despite the team’s success. A Ravens loss is always welcome, so this one is clear. Root for the Seahawks
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) at Houston Texans (3-4)
The Buccaneers were a Baker Mayfield Hail Mary away from upsetting the Buffalo Bills last week, while the Texans ensured that there will be no winless teams this season by dropping a last-minute decision to the Carolina Panthers. Mayfield could not help his old team last week with a win, but he gets another chance this week against the Texans, who are hanging on the edge of the playoff hunt. Root for the Buccaneers
Buffalo Bills (5-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
Sunday comes to a close with what could be one of the weekend’s best games, depending on which Buffalo team decides to show up. The Bills have been erratic this season, while the Bengals are doing their annual annoying thing where they start to figure it out around midseason and have won three games in a row. While a Buffalo loss combined with a Cleveland win would bring the Browns into a tie with the Bills, a loss by the Bengals would probably help the cause a bit more. Root for the Bills
Los Angeles Chargers (3-4) at New York Jets (4-3)
Two teams that are sort of just hanging around in the playoff race meet on Monday night. No matter who wins the game, the simulator still has Cleveland’s chances at making the playoffs resting at 46 percent, so the rooting interest is minimal. One consideration is that the Browns play the Jets later in the season so they have an opportunity to grab the tiebreaker against New York. Still, having both teams finish the week with four losses would not be bad. Root for the Chargers
We’ve decided, at least for this week, to eliminate the AFC teams with five or more losses - the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos (bye week) and New England Patriots - from the rooting guide as even with a win they are a long shot to get back into the playoff race. That could change in the future, but for now, they are on the sidelines.
Heading into Sunday’s game, how are you feeling about the Browns chances at making the playoffs?