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AFC playoff picture: Browns create separation from myriad of 7-6 teams

At 8-5, Cleveland is tied for the third best record in the AFC

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t heard, the Cleveland Browns are 8-5 through 14 weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season. Add to that, the Browns have done so with four different starting quarterbacks logging wins this season.

It isn’t all smoke and mirrors for Cleveland as a great defense at home and a creative offense have led to victories this year over the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and, now, the Jacksonville Jaguars, three current division leaders.

The NFL playoff picture is muddy. The AFC playoff picture is muddy and deep with the Browns holding the top wild card spot. With division winners receiving the first four seeds and the Ravens two games ahead, Cleveland’s best seed is likely fifth.

The AFC standings (pulled directly from the official NFL media site) show just how deep the conference is with six teams at 7-6, just below the Browns:

At the bottom of this article, we will share the tiebreaker process that was gone through to get the order we see above. Needless to say, it is much easier for Cleveland to avoid getting involved in the chaos that is happening below them in the standings.

If the season ended today, the Browns would travel to take on the Jaguars once again.

Given the division winners getting the top four seeds, Cleveland may have to go on the road to face a team with a worse record in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

Seeing all the 7-6 teams, which ones concern you most for taking the Browns top wild card spot?

Current Tiebreaker Process

  • In the multi-way tiebreaker at 7-6, you need to get down to one team per division first. Pittsburgh has a win over Cincinnati, Indianapolis has a win over the Texans. The Steelers and Colts move on to the first group of the tiebreaker.
  • Once we get to the Steelers, Colts, Broncos, and Bills, it goes to AFC record. The Steelers and Colts are both 5-4, so they go against one another. Pittsburgh wins on record in common games.
  • Indianapolis, Denver, Buffalo, and now Cincinnati go to a four-way tiebreaker, which the Colts and their 5-4 AFC record win.
  • The Broncos, Bills, Bengals, and Texans now go to a four-way tiebreaker, which the Texans win on their 4-4 AFC record.
  • The Broncos, Bills, and Bengals go to a three-way tie, and the Bills & Broncos advance based on their AFC record before Denver bears Buffalo thanks to a head-to-head win.
  • Buffalo and Cincinnati go to a head-to-head tiebreaker, which the Bengals win thanks to their victory over the Bills.
  • The Chargers and Raiders go to an AFC West tiebreaker first, which the Chargers win because they’ve beaten Las Vegas.
  • The Chargers and Jets go to a tiebreaker and Los Angeles wins that head-to-head, as well.
  • The Raiders and Jets go to a tiebreaker, which the Raiders win on head-to-head.