The Cleveland Browns had a great Saturday, , but they had a very bad Sunday, as both the Ravens and the Steelers won their matchups. The Ravens put Cleveland behind the eight ball in the AFC, while the Steelers win over the Patriots, , actually did eliminate the Browns from the AFC North race.
Only Pittsburgh and Baltimore can win the division, but the Browns still have a Lloyd Christmas-style shot at making the postseason as a wild card. It's less than one percent, but that's more than zero.
They only need a few things to happen, but those things are very specific. Let's run through them.
1. Win their games
This should be obvious: the Browns have to win both of their games and get to 8-7-1. Anything less than that and they will be eliminated; seven wins will not be enough for Cleveland to make the playoffs, not when there are already multiple teams with eight wins. The Browns play the Bengals at home in Week 16 -- they're a touchdown favorite! -- and they play at the Ravens on Sunday. They'll be underdogs in the latter game, but they can win.
2. The Ravens lose to the Chargers
Baltimore is now 8-6 and in control of the No. 6 seed in the AFC. If they win another game, they'll be at nine wins, which would make it impossible for Cleveland to catch them. The Ravens have to lose out, of course, but one of those games is against Cleveland. Baltimore losing in Los Angeles on Sunday would keep hope alive for Cleveland to steal the wild card. Baltimore winning would eliminate the Browns.
3. The Dolphins lose one game
Miami is at 7-7 so it can't win out, otherwise the Browns won't be able to catch the Dolphins. Cleveland needs Miami to either lose at home to Jacksonville or to lose in Buffalo in Week 17. The Dolphins will be favored in the first game and a close underdog at worst in the second game. This is the sneaky spot where if everything went right for Cleveland they could still get banged.
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Cleveland's other competition for the No. 6 seed are a pair of AFC South teams who have been coming on strong lately. They both have eight wins as well, and if they win on Sunday in Week 16, the Browns won't be able to catch them either, which will eliminate Cleveland. Unfortunately the matchups aren't ideal. Indianapolis hosts the Giants at home and the Colts are in that game. The Titans host the Redskins at home are also heavy favorites. Cleveland needs a pair of upsets to keep hope alive, and that's not even the hardest part of this whole scenario.
4. The Colts and Titans TIE in Week 17
Now this is where things get extremely dicey. Because the Colts and Titans both have eight wins and because they play each other in Week 17, one of them is getting to nine wins. That's just how the math works. UNLESS ... they tie. If Colts-Titans ends up in a tie in Week 17 and all of this other stuff breaks the right way for Cleveland, they could sneak into the postseason on a serious Hail Mary move.
It's all very, very, very unlikely to unfold. Again, there's less than a one percent chance of it happening. It might all be over by Saturday night -- both the Titans and Ravens play on Saturday in Week 16 and if either wins, the Browns are toast.
But some hope is better than no hope and Browns fans need to know what to hope for.