The Browns sit at 7-3 and if the season were to end today, they would end their league-leading 19-year playoff drought. This was something that seemed nearly certain to happen in the lead-up to the 2019 season but quickly fell apart after a 2-6 start. This season, the Browns seem likely to make the playoffs, but it is far from a guarantee, currently sitting at 69%, according to fivethirtyeight.com. The Browns currently would be the sixth seed, though they are just one game ahead of the Dolphins and Ravens, who sit eighth and ninth.
Who are the Browns Competition?
Coming into last week, six AFC teams, the Titans, Colts, Ravens, Dolphins, Raiders and Browns all sat at 6-3. While the Raiders, Ravens and Dolphins lost to drop to 6-4, those are the AFC teams who will challenge for the playoff spots. With the Bills, Steelers and Chiefs looking very likely to make the playoffs, the six teams listed will be competing for four spots. One of the Titans or Colts will make it as the AFC South winners, so the Browns will need to come in at least third of the five other teams. They hold the tiebreaker over the Colts by virtue of their head-to-head victory and the Raiders hold the same over the Browns. The Browns will play Tennessee in two weeks time and they will get a second chance against the Ravens on Monday Night Football in Week 14. They will not face the Dolphins this season, though the Browns currently hold the tiebreaker by virtue of conference record.
What do the Browns Need to Do?
The Browns have games against the Jaguars, Giants and Jets, who currently have a combined record of 4-26 this season. If they win all three of these games, their playoff chances go up to 90%. If they win two of them, the chances are around 60%. If they win only one, it’ll be under 40%. If in some nightmare they don’t win any, they will be just above 10%. It is very crucial that the Browns win all three of these games. If they do that, they will be at least 10-6, something that gives them a 59% chance to play January football. However, if they can snag one of the three games against Tennessee, Baltimore, or Pittsburgh, they have a 99% chance of advancing. The games against Baltimore and Tennessee will be the most crucial, as a win against them will also give the Browns a tiebreaker over their opponent, something that could prove critical. While Pittsburgh is yet to lose this season, if they have nothing to play for in Week 17, they could be sitting starters, something that would help the Browns.
What Games Mean the Most to Each Team?
Colts(7-3): Week 12 vs. TEN and Week 14 @ LV
Titans(7-3): Week 12 @ IND and Week 13 vs. CLE
Browns(7-3): Week 13 @ TEN and Week 14 vs. BAL
Raiders(6-4): Week 14 vs. IND and Week 16 vs. MIA
Ravens(6-4): Week 14 @ CLE
Dolphins(6-4): Week 16 @ LV
There is an argument that the Ravens and Dolphins are unlucky to only have one game each against the teams that are in the fight for the wild card spots. However, as all teams in the fight for the postseason are relatively solid, it could be looked at as an advantage.
The Browns have the best chance to make the postseason since the last time they made the playoffs in 2002. They control their own destiny and don’t play a team that they won’t have a chance to beat for the rest of the year. They will be in the playoff hunt for the rest of the season and will have to fight their way to the playoffs.