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Browns NFL Power Rankings: Cleveland as high as the 4th best team heading into Week 18

Who would have thought it, with Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb sidelined?

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New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Here is a summary of how the Cleveland Browns are viewed across mainstream media outlets in NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season.

CBS Sports - No. 5 (up 2 spots)

Kevin Stefanski is the coach of the year for getting this team to the playoffs with so many injuries and Joe Flacco resurrecting his career. Amazing.

ESPN - No. 7 (up 2 spots)

Biggest offseason contract to watch: LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

The Browns recently signed safety Grant Delpit to a three-year, $36 million extension. Cleveland could lock up another one of its young core defensive players later this year. Owusu-Koramoah is having a breakout third season (98 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 INTs) and is a major reason the Browns have arguably the top defense in the league. The 2021 second-round pick out of Notre Dame will be extension eligible this year and figures to be the next Cleveland defender still on a rookie deal to get a big payday.

NFL.com - No. 7 (up 2 spots)

In our search for teams capable of winning it all this season, the Browns make the cut — even if some still doubt their credentials. They’re not doing it in any kind of expected or predictable way, which is how it tends to go for teams that are absolutely ravaged by injury. But you had better believe I am taking seriously a team that has beaten the Ravens and 49ers — and has seemingly upgraded at quarterback (over P.J. Walker and an injured Deshaun Watson) since those games. Joe Flacco is getting a little loosey-goosey with the interceptions, but he definitely has the playoff pedigree, big-game nerves and deep-ball arm to will this team on a postseason run. It’s possible there is no group better-equipped to deal with the Ravens, because of Flacco and a dominant defense. Cleveland might be the team — along with Buffalo — that no one wants to face on the AFC side. You could even argue the Browns are more dangerous than Buffalo, and I might not put up much of a fight, even as banged up as Cleveland is.

Sporting News - No. 4 (up 2 spots)

How about Joe Flacco, again? Here comes a mini-season MVP outside of Baltimore and a rising Comeback Player of the Year favorite. He has the Browns on track to face his former team in a division rematch in the divisional round.

Yahoo Sports - No.8 (up 1 spot)

The Browns are one of the teams facing a decision on whether to play starters in Week 18. They are locked into the AFC’s No. 5 seed. It’s a great opportunity to get some players rest before they face the AFC South champ on wild-card weekend.

Bleacher Report - No. 8 (up 1 spot)

You cannot stop Joe Flacco. You can only hope to contain him. For the fourth consecutive game, the Browns quarterback topped 300 passing yards and threw multiple touchdown passes—this time against one of the league’s better pass defenses and without No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper. Flacco’s big game Thursday came with his children in attendance, and he told reporters that this surreal season is made all the better by the fact that he can share it with his kids.

“You don’t know how many of these moments you’re going to get,” Flacco said. “Not too many people get the opportunity to have kids as old as mine and that understand what’s going on—get to witness this. And I think it’s cool for them, but ultimately, it’s really cool for me. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life. And anything that you get to do with people that you love, especially your children, they just make everything that much more special.”

Cleveland’s fourth straight win and seventh in nine games clinched a playoff spot for the Browns. But given how this team and its 38-year-old quarterback are playing, Cleveland’s aspirations are quite a bit loftier now than just making the playoffs.

USA Today - No. 8 (up 1 spot)

They’re the first team in NFL annals to reach the playoffs despite starting four quarterbacks in multiple games … though that adversity is what led them to resurrected Joe Flacco.

Bengals Browns Ravens Steelers
CBS Sports 17 5 1 13
ESPN 18 7 1 12
NFL.com 18 7 1 15
Sporting News 19 4 1 11
Yahoo Sports 19 8 1 15
Bleacher Report 19 8 1 16
USA Today 21 8 1 19
Average 18.7
(down 2.8)
6.7
(up 1.4)
1.0
(no change)
14.4
(up 2.2)

What do you think of the Browns’ ranking this week?