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Playoff Watch: Browns still sniffin’ around top of AFC playoff picture

The Browns are in the driver’s seat of their own vehicle

The Cleveland Browns did their part and beat AFC South Division leader Jacksonville Jaguars. The win places Cleveland at 8-5-0 which broke a two-game losing streak. Other teams lost important games this past weekend which helped the Browns.

Every game from this point on is critical to their ascent towards the post-season tournament. Just four games remain, and the Browns are in a good spot as long as they continue to win. Many a team has faltered going down the stretch.

Let’s examine what the other teams are doing, and who has the best chances of making the postseason.


AFC North Division

#1. seed Baltimore Ravens 10-3-0

The Ravens’ have taken over the AFC’s top seed as the Kansas City Chiefs lost as did the Jacksonville Jaguars. It will take a miracle for Baltimore to lose the division crown and prove each week they are one of the league’s best clubs. But they face some very tough teams going forward including the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins, both great teams in their own rights.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Division crown probability: 86% (up 12)

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins, Steelers

Post-season probability: 99% (up 1)

Cleveland Browns 8-5-0

The Browns righted their path with a much-needed win over the Jaguars, a very good football team. They completely control their destiny with just four games remaining. But just when you think a team like the Bears, Jets, and Texans would be easy wins, all three have looked good in recent games. Can the Browns win the division? It would take Baltimore falling down hard in three of their remaining four contests.

Division crown probability: 12% (up 5)

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Texans, Bengals

Post-season probability: 84% (up 24)

Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-0

The Steelers are now in a two-game losing skid as they were beaten in back-to-back with two of the league’s worst five teams in the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. They also play a very good team in their final four games as they dropped one seed slot this week.

Division crown probability: 1% (down 7)

Last five games: 2-3-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals, Colts, Seahawks, Ravens

Post-season probability: 25% (down 28)

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cincinnati Bengals 7-6-0

Don’t look now but the hottest team in the division not wearing purple are the Bengals who have found new life with a new quarterback. They have a two-game win streak against two playoff contenders. Do not count out Cincy for a playoff seed after most folks had written off their season when QB Joe Burrow went down with an injury. Three of their final four games are not going to be easy, but they seem to be up to the task of beating playoff-caliber clubs. The Bengals have gained 26 percentage points in these past two weeks of making the playoffs and gained one playoff seed this week.

Division crown probability: 1% (same)

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Chiefs, Browns

Post-season probability: 26% (up 10)


AFC East

Syndication: Palm Beach Post BILL INGRAM/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK

#2. seed Miami Dolphins 9-4-0

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Cowboys, Ravens, Bills

Post-season probability: 99% (same)

AFC South

#4. seed Jacksonville Jaguars 8-5-0

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens

Post-season probability: 92% (down 7)

AFC West

#3. seed Kansas City Chiefs 8-5-0

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals, Chargers

Post-season probability: 98% (down 1)


Wild Cards

#5. Cleveland Browns 8-5-0

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Texans, Bengals

Post-season probability: 84% (up 24)

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

#6. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-6-0

Last five games: 2-3-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals, Colts, Seahawks, Ravens

Post-season probability: 25% (down 28)

#7. Indianapolis Colts 7-6-0

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Texans

Post-season probability: 41% (down 26)


On the Outside

#8. Houston Texans 7-6-0

Last five games: 3-2. Toughest opponents remaining: Browns, Colts

Post-season probability: 45% (down 33)

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

#9. Denver Broncos 7-6-0

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Chargers, Lions

Post-season probability: 50% (up 29)

#10. Cincinnati Bengals 7-6-0

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers, Chiefs, Browns

Post-season probability: 26% (up 10)

#11. Buffalo Bills 7-6-0

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Cowboys, Chargers, Dolphins

Post-season probability: 39% (up 25)

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

#12. Los Angeles Chargers 5-7-0

Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Broncos, Bills, Chiefs

Post-season probability: 1% (down 6)

#13. Las Vegas Raiders 5-8-0

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: Chiefs, Chargers

Post-season probability: 1% (same)


Week 15 looking ahead: Results that could help the Browns

Thursday

Raiders over Chargers

Saturday

Vikings over Bengals

Colts over Steelers

Lions over Broncos

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday

Browns over Bears

Titans over Texans

Jets over Dolphins

Cowboys over Bills

Patriots over Chiefs

Jaguars over Ravens