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Updated Browns playoff seeding heading into Week 16 after Week 15 victory

Browns vs Bears wouldn’t have impacted AFC playoff seeding this week but could impact later

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal PHIL MASTURZO / USA TODAY NETWORK

Every week matters in the NFL. That is the beauty of just 17 games compared to the more robust schedules in the NBA and MLB. The scarcity principle is one of many reasons that the NFL is so popular.

For the Cleveland Browns, trying to just make it through the season with enough healthy players to make the playoffs, it feels like every week is a struggle. That is unlikely to change this week versus the Chicago Bears where weather could play a role.

The AFC playoff picture was overwhelming after Week 14 with six teams at 7-6. The Browns held the fifth seed and top wild card spot in the AFC playoff standings.

Two out of the three games Saturday of Week 15 went in the direction Cleveland is rooting for.

Given NFL tiebreaker procedures, the Browns are locked into the fifth seed whether they win or lose against the Bears this week. Cleveland is two games behind the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North lead which leaves the fifth spot as the highest they can achieve.

While the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts moved to 8-6 on Saturday, the Browns own the H2H tiebreaker over each of them. The Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills could also run their records to 8-6 but Cleveland has a better conference record than either of them.

As noted in the tiebreaker piece, the multi-team tiebreaker procedure is different than head-to-head tiebreakers noted above but the end result is the same.


No need to worry about tiebreakers as Cleveland won in come-from-behind fashion to move to 9-5 on the year. The Browns are now tied for the third-best record in the AFC with the Kansas City Chiefs with the Baltimore Ravens (10-3 and yet to play as of this publishing time) and the Miami Dolphins (10-4) just above them.

The Jacksonville Jaguars could also run their record to 9-5 if they can knock off the Ravens on Sunday Night Football.

Three teams sit behind Cleveland in the Wild Card standings with 8-6 records: Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. The Buffalo Bills could join that crowd if they can knock off the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15.

We will have a full update Monday morning after all AFC games are completed Sunday night.

Despite no change to seeding in Week 15, the Browns have a lot to gain with a victory Sunday:

Even if they lose, Cleveland will have the fifth-best odds in the AFC to make the playoffs but a victory jumps their probability to almost 92% with just three games left on the schedule.