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If you're feeling nostalgic and wondering why, don't immediately pinpoint the holidays -- it might very well be Joe Flacco making the world feel like it was 2013 all over again. A decade ago, January Joe set the world on fire with an all-time playoff run that netted the Ravens a Super Bowl victory and Flacco a couple of big bags

Flacco improbably has the 2023 Browns officially in the playoffs, thanks to a 37-20 win over the Jets to open Week 17. Lest you think the 38-year-old veteran is riding an elite defense's coattails, peep the stats: Flacco went 19 of 29 for 309 yards and three touchdowns against New York. Yes, he threw a pick-six, but he and David Njoku exploded in the first half with the tight end finishing with 134 yards. 

Flacco's now dropped four straight games with at least 300 passing yards and two passing touchdowns, making him the first QB to do so in a season since Patrick Mahomes in 2020. The Browns are 4-1 in his starts, making Flacco the perfect poster boy for 2023, the Year of the Backup in the NFL

How far can the Browns go with Flacco under center? At 11-5, they're locked into the playoffs after this win over the Jets. However, I'm curious to see if they can crack the door not just for the AFC North but the No. 1 seed in the AFC as well. 

Let's be clear here: This is HIGHLY unlikely. But here's how it can happen.

Step 1: Win out 

This was and remains a must for the Browns to get the top seed. After beating the Jets, Cleveland plays the Bengals on the road to close out the season and will likely be favored in that matchup. Losing this matchup, however, puts the dream of a division title and the No. 1 seed to bed.

Step 2: Win the AFC North (with help from Baltimore)

The Browns can't clinch the top seed without winning the division, obviously. So they'll need the Ravens to throw them a bone and lose some football games. Assuming Cleveland wins Week 18, the Browns need the Ravens to lose their two remaining matchups. The two teams split the head-to-head matchups, but the Browns swept the AFC South (Baltimore lost to Indy) and Cleveland would, in this hypothetical, have a better conference record even if it shared a record in common games. If one of the Ravens' hypothetical losses are to the Steelers, the Browns would hold the division record tiebreak. 

Step 3: Get help from the Dolphins and Bills

Now here's where the Browns REALLY need to thread the needle. 

The Dolphins have tough matchups down the stretch, which makes an 11-6 finish very possible. However, the Browns can beat the Dolphins for the No. 1 seed at 12-5 ... assuming the Dolphins loss is to the Bills in Week 18. If they lose to the Ravens, however, the division and the No. 1 seed goes up in smoke in favor of Baltimore. 

But if that loss comes at the hands of Buffalo, Cleveland's 9-3 conference record (assuming a win in Week 18 vs. Cincinnati) beats Miami's 8-4 conference record and we're in BUSINESS! 

Cleveland making the postseason with all these injuries is improbable enough, but here we are. No one should want to play them with that defense and Joe Flacco. Heaven forbid the NFL gives January Joe the top seed in the AFC and really lets him cut loose in an AFC bracket riddled with quarterback injuries.