The Cleveland Browns are coming off two weeks of games that still seem hard to believe.
Last-second wins against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers - teams that have routinely kicked the Browns around over the past 20 years - have the 7-3 Browns firmly in control of their destiny as they look to return to the playoffs for just the third time since 1999.
Heading into this week’s slate of games the Browns currently hold the No. 5 seed in the AFC as the conference’s top Wild Card team. Only the Ravens (8-3) have more wins than the Browns, and Cleveland is tied with the Kansas City Chiefs (7-3), Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) and Miami Dolphins (7-3) in the conference’s pecking order.
Which two teams are meeting in the Super Bowl? pic.twitter.com/nkdJDktlSL— NFL (@NFL) November 21, 2023
Cleveland has an 86 percent chance of making the playoffs as they begin preparation for this week’s game against the Denver Broncos (5-5). A win in Denver, a place where the Browns have only emerged victorious twice since 1972, jumps the odds of making the playoffs to 95 percent. A loss leaves the Browns with a still-promising 77 percent chance of earning a playoff spot, all according to The New York Times.
We still have a ways to go, and a lot of Thanksgiving food to eat, before kickoff rolls around on Sunday at 4:05 p.m., so in the meantime let’s look at this week’s rooting guide for Browns fans.
Miami Dolphins (7-3) vs. New York Jets (4-6)
The Dolphins are currently on top of the AFC East but are coming off an uninspiring win over the Las Vegas Raiders and still have the Buffalo Bills lurking in their rearview mirror. The Jets, meanwhile, have finally seen enough of the Zach Wilson experience at quarterback and are turning to Tim Boyle as the starter for Friday’s game. The Dolphins have not been all that intimidating away from home this season, but the Jets remain the Jets. The Browns get their shot at the Jets later this season but not the Dolphins, so a loss by Miami would be good. Root for the Jets
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)
A matchup of two teams in turmoil as the Steelers fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada this week in a case of “if you can’t fire your bad quarterback, fire the offensive coordinator,” while the Bengals are reeling after losing quarterback Joe Burrow to a season-ending wrist injury. The Steelers still have Kenny Pickett at quarterback while the Bengals will hit the field with Jake Browning, who has thrown one pass in a regular-season game in five seasons. The Bengals are likely cooked without Burrow, while the Steelers are entering an easy portion of their schedule, so another loss by Pittsburgh is in order. Root for the Bengals
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) vs. Houston Texans (6-4)
The marquee matchup of the 1 p.m. games is a surprising battle for first place in the AFC South. The Browns still have both the Jaguars and the Texans on the schedule, meaning they can claim the tiebreaker over both teams if it comes to that for playoff positioning. A win by the Jaguars actually helps the Browns a little bit more according to the playoff simulator, so go Jaguars! Root for the Jaguars
Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (5-6)
The Chiefs find themselves in unfamiliar territory as they are no longer the No. 1 seed in the AFC after losing on Monday night to the Philadelphia Eagles. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, but if the Chiefs don’t secure the conference’s top seed, it sets up the possibility that they will play their first AFC playoff game on the road since Patrick Mahomes took over at quarterback in 2018. The Raiders, while better now that head coach Josh McDaniels is not around, are not a lock to win anything if they are not playing one of the New York teams. The Chiefs have only lost once to the Raiders since 2017, but what are holidays for if not for miracles? Root for the Raiders
Buffalo Bills (6-5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
The Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey before last week’s game and all was right in their world as they took down the Jets. This week is a taller task, however, as they face the Eagles on the road. Philadelphia is coming off their big win against the Chiefs and there is always the potential for a letdown. But the Eagles are currently a machine and eager to stay ahead of the surprising Detroit Lions in the NFC, so they should be on top of their game. Root for the Eagles
Baltimore Ravens (8-3) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)
The Ravens woke up Tuesday morning as the AFC’s top seed after beating the Bengals and then seeing the Chiefs fall at home to the Eagles. They can’t get complacent, however, knowing that the Browns are looming right behind them in the AFC North standings. The Chargers continue to be a hot mess that always finds a way to lose a close game. Oddly enough, the Chargers have alternated two losses followed by two wins all season, and after losing to the Lions and Green Bay Packers the past two weeks, the winning cycle is waiting to start back up. Root for the Chargers
How are you currently feeling about the Browns chances at making the playoffs with quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson running the offense?