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Browns, AFC playoff picture: Good to be relevant once again as Browns remain near the top

The Browns are in the postseason

When the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, the victory sealed a playoff bid. The only questions remained would be if they would keep their #5 seed, improve on it, had a chance for a division title, possibly compete for the #1 seed, and possibly work out a home playoff game.

As the Browns were taking care of their own business, those answers would largely depend upon what other clubs did in Weeks 17 and 18. A number 5 seed would be perfect. That would place Cleveland against the Number 4 seed which would most likely become the winner of the AFC South Division, either the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, or the Indianapolis Colts.

The beauty here is that each team would barely have a record that exceeded the .500 mark, plus the Browns had defeated all three during the regular season. This trio won their Week 17 games. A Cleveland win in the opening Wild Card round would certainly do this young roster good.

The AFC North is going to be represented by two clubs and a possible third. As with most of the season, it is the only division that does not have any member clubs with a losing record.

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


AFC North

#1. seed Baltimore Ravens 13-3-0

The Ravens’ have clinched the AFC’s top seed as they beat the Miami Dolphins in a matchup that was highly anticipated but became an absolute blowout by the Ravens. Baltimore is an exceptional team whose injuries have been minimal whereas other clubs have bodies piling up on their IR lists. They captured the AFC North Division last weekend and is riding a six-game win streak.

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Next week the Ravens face the Pittsburgh Steelers at home and is a must-win for their division foe and luckily for the Steelers the Ravens can rest all of their starters if they desire to.

Division crown probability: 100% (up 5)

Last five games: 5-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Steelers

Post-season probability: 100% (same)

Cleveland Browns 11-5-0

The Browns have secured a Wild Card spot which is currently the #5 seed. This means they can rest any amount of players they wish going into the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals who were eliminated this week after losing to the Chiefs. The Browns have also secured coming in second in the division. Cleveland is riding a four-game win streak.

Division crown probability: 0% (down 18)

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals

Post-season probability: 100% (up 1)

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7-0

The Steelers have found ways to keep winning when they appeared to be out of any playoff race. They defeated the pesky Seattle Seahawks 30-23 to keep their playoff hopes alive. And the good news is that their final opponent, the Ravens, do not have a single thing to play for in the Week 18 finale and will most likely rest as many starters as possible which will certainly give Pittsburgh an easy win. Then they need lots of help to get in.

Division crown probability: 0% (down 1)

Last five games: 2-3-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens

Post-season probability: 28% (up 15)

Cincinnati Bengals 8-8-0

No NFL team was hotter than the Bengals, and now they are completely out of the post-season with a 28-17 loss to the Chiefs. The defeat also guaranteed that Cincy will finish last in the division.

Division crown probability: 0% (down 1)

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

Post-season probability: 0% (down 20)


AFC East

#2. seed Miami Dolphins 11-5-0

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

Post-season probability: 100% (same)

Jacksonville Jaguars v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

AFC South

#4. seed Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7-0

Last five games: 1-4. Toughest opponents remaining: Titans

Post-season probability: 77% (up 5)

AFC West

#3. seed Kansas City Chiefs 10-6-0

Last five games: 2-3. Toughest opponents remaining: none

Post-season probability: 100% (up 1)


Wild Cards

#5. Cleveland Browns 11-5-0

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Bengals

Post-season probability: 100% (up 1)

#6. Buffalo Bills 10-6-0

Last five games: 4-1. Toughest opponents remaining: Dolphins

Post-season probability: 94% (up 24)

Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

#7. Indianapolis Colts 9-7-0

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

Post-season probability: 52% (down 7)


On the Outside

#8. Houston Texans 9-7-0

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

Post-season probability: 48% (up 11)

#9. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7-0

Last five games: 2-3-0. Toughest opponents remaining: Ravens

Post-season probability: 28% (up 15)


Eliminated: Patriots, Jets, Chargers, Titans, Bengals, Raiders, Broncos


Week 18 looking ahead: Results that could help the Browns

The only games would concern the AFC South contests. Out of the three teams, the Colts followed by the Jags gave the Browns the most problems during the regular season. If the Texans could win this division, Cleveland would be much better off. If both Jacksonville and Indianapolis lose, Houston would win the division. All Jacksonville has to do is defeat Tennessee and they are in.

Sunday

Titans over Jaguars

Texans over Colts