The Cleveland Browns spent a forgettable two weeks on the West Coast as they bumbled their way to two consecutive losses.
A week after turning the ball over three times and losing quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to a concussion in a loss to the Denver Broncos, the Browns turned to Joe Flacco and his “big arm” against the Los Angeles Rams. Flacco played well enough up to the point where he threw a fourth-quarter interception and the game went downhill from there.
The Browns (7-5) are back home this Sunday to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4). Cleveland is currently sitting at the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but their playoff odds have fallen to 59 percent, according to The New York Times.
A win on Sunday against the Jaguars would Cleveland’s conference record to 6-3 and boost their playoff chances to 78 percent. A loss would be tough to take as it would drop the playoff chances to just 45 percent, the first time in weeks that the Browns would be below 50 percent.
It’s looking like it will be cold and rainy on Sunday, which should favor the Browns over the warm-weather Jaguars, but there are no guarantees in the NFL, so let’s take a run through this week’s rooting guide for Browns fans.
New England Patriots (2-10) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5)
The Patriots continue to circle the drain as they have lost five games in a row, including the past three games despite giving up fewer than 10 points in each game. The Steelers, meanwhile, are the latest AFC team to lose its starting quarterback after Kenny Pickett suffered an ankle injury, but might be the only team whose offense will still be just as ineffective with backup Mitch Trubisky as it was with Pickett in the huddle. The Browns missed an opportunity to get a game up on the Steelers last week, so they can use some help from New England. Root for the Patriots
Indianapolis Colts (7-5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (6-6)
The Colts ripped off their fourth consecutive win last week and have climbed into the playoff race. The Bengals took down the Jaguars on Monday night as quarterback Jake Browning threw for 354 yards and avoided turning the ball over, just like everyone expected. The Browns hold the tiebreaker over the Colts, which just might come in handy, but it would still be nice to put some distance between them and the Colts. Root for the Bengals
Houston Texans (7-5) vs. New York Jets (4-8)
The Texans turned the tables on the Denver Broncos last week as they let Russell Wilson “cook” to the tune of three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 53.2. The Jets continue to be the Jets as after experiencing the joy of watching Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian play quarterback, are returning to a reluctant Zach Wilson as Sunday’s starter against the Texans. Cleveland’s game against Houston on December 24 is looking like it will be a big one, so having the Texans pick up a loss before then would be cool. Root for the Jets
Los Angeles Rams (6-6) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
The Rams are picking up a bit of momentum after winning three consecutive games, the most recent against the Browns in frustrating fashion. The Ravens are coming off their bye week having won two in a row and tied with the Miami Dolphins for the best record in the AFC. The division title is still theoretically in play for the Browns, especially with the Ravens facing Jacksonville, the San Francisco 49ers and the Dolphins in the next three weeks. Perhaps the Rams can repay the Browns for giving them the game last week by taking down the Ravens. Root for the Rams
Buffalo Bills (6-6) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)
Even though they lost last week to the Green Bay Packers and have been inconsistent the past five weeks, it is still highly likely that the Chiefs will claim the AFC West Division title. The Bills have been dealing with their own issues as they have lost three of their past four, but still pose a bigger threat to the Browns hopes of making the playoffs. Root for the Chiefs
Denver Broncos (6-6) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (5-7)
The Browns losing to the Broncos two weeks ago to start a regrettable West Coast trip still grates more than it probably should. The Chargers broke their three-game losing streak with last week’s epic 6-0 victory over the Patriots. The Broncos have lost two of their past three meetings with the Chargers, so it’s good if that trend holds this weekend. Root for the Chargers
Tennessee Titans (4-8) vs. Miami Dolphins (9-3)
Much like the Chiefs, the Dolphins are likely going to win their division, so they don’t pose a direct threat to Cleveland’s playoff chances. However, a loss by Miami only helps Baltimore’s quest to claim the top seed in the AFC, and that is not something that brings any comfort. Fortunately, the Titans are cooked, so this should be a Monday night snoozer. Root for the Dolphins
How are you currently feeling about the Browns chances at making the playoffs if the team rides with Joe Flacco at quarterback?