ESPN gives Browns almost no chance to make the playoffs in 2017
The Cleveland Browns are working hard to rebuild the broken franchise, but the playoffs are still out of reach, according to ESPN.
The Cleveland Browns and the playoffs were once synonymous with each other.
The Browns owned the All-American Football Conference, winning the title all four years the league was in existence. That streak continued when Cleveland joined the NFL in 1950, as the Browns won the first of their four NFL titles.
That streak would eventually grow to 10 consecutive title game appearances, with seven winning efforts, and the Browns would make the playoffs 13 times between 1950 and 1970.
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Things have been a bit different, obviously, since Cleveland’s last playoff win in 1994.
The Browns are currently riding are 14-year streak of not making the playoffs. They haven’t had a winning season since 2007 and have lost 10 or more games in 12 of their past 14 seasons.
Things bottomed out in 2016, when the Browns went 1-15 in the first year of a massive – and much-needed – rebuild intended to once again make the playoffs an annual event in Cleveland.
That will have to wait at least another year if ESPN’s Sports Analytics teams is correct. The site put together its Football Power Index rankings for 2017 and the news is predictably not good for the guys in Orange and Brown.
ESPN predicts the Browns will win 4.8 games this fall and a 0.6 percent chance of winning the AFC North Division. Overall, Cleveland has just a 1.8 percent chance of making the playoffs:
"The AFC North is once again set to be a tough division, with only the Browns not projected to finish .500 or better. The Steelers are the preseason favorite to take the division for a second straight year, with the Ravens and Bengals fighting for second place. If the division title race comes down to the final week of the season, take note that Pittsburgh faces Cleveland for the third consecutive season, while the Ravens will host the Bengals in what our projections suggest could determine a wild-card berth."
On the bright side, ESPN gives the Browns a 21.4 percent of securing the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, a 66.6 percent chance of earning a top 5 pick and are almost a lock to have a pick among the first 10 selections, at 86.9 percent.
That is a sobering reality, but a reality none the less and one that Browns fans should accept. The front office has done considerable work rebuilding the team, but they are still one more draft away from truly being able to talk about contending for the playoffs on a regular basis.
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Four wins may not sound like much, but if it helps the Browns earn one more high draft pick in 2018, which in turn pushes the rebuild over the top, then it will be worth it.