The Columbus Dispatch
Browns still have shot at AFC North championship
After suffering a 24-22 defeat Saturday to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the Cleveland Browns (7-8) are an extreme long shot to qualify for a wild-card postseason berth. Winning the AFC North is by far their best chance to make the playoffs.
And with the Baltimore Ravens losing 41-21 against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers falling 36-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Browns are alive in a tight race for the AFC North championship.
The Bengals lead the division at 9-6, followed by the Ravens (8-7) and Steelers (7-7-1).
To capture their first division crown since 1989, the Browns would need to win their final two regular-season games — at the Steelers on Jan. 3 and versus the Bengals Jan. 9. The Browns fell 15-10 to the Steelers on Oct. 31 in Cleveland and routed the Bengals 41-16 on Nov. 7 at Cincinnati.
“Obviously, everybody knows we need some help to get in the playoffs, but help won't matter unless we take care of our own business, and that's going to be our focus,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told reporters.
Like Mayfield pointed out, the Browns need to catch a few breaks.
They need the Bengals to lose Jan. 2 at home to the Chiefs (11-4) and the Ravens to lose one of their final two games — Jan. 2 at home to the Los Angeles Rams (11-4) or Jan. 9 at home to the Steelers.
If the Browns and Bengals finish 9-8, the Browns would claim the division title based on the head-to-head tiebreaker because they would be 2-0 in the series.
If the Browns, Bengals and Ravens finish 9-8, the Browns would win the division based on the three-team, head-to-head tiebreaker — best wonlost-tied percentage in games among those clubs. The Browns would be 3-1 in those games, the Bengals 2-2 and the Ravens 1-3.