Cleveland Browns receive help for path to the postseason during Week 12
After falling to 2-6, it seemed impossible the Cleveland Browns could reach the postseason. But after Week 12, they are right in the thick of the hunt.
The offseason expectations of the Cleveland Browns winning the AFC North and reaching the postseason for the first time since 2002 this season quickly fell apart in the middle of the season. Sitting at 2-6 after Week 9, there was little hope for the Browns.
The Cleveland Browns are now at 5-6 after winning their Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, and right back in the hunt for the Wild Card. With the sixth Wild Card spot being held by a 6-5 team, the Browns have a chance to go on a late season run and steal the spot.
But not only was their win on Sunday important, they received help in another matchup. The Oakland Raiders, one of the teams ahead of the Browns in the Wild Card standings, were blown out by the New York Jets to fall to 6-5.
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The Raiders are one of four 6-5 teams ahead of the Browns, so Cleveland will certainly need more help if they want to claim the final wild card spot. But with a weak schedule ahead of them, which includes two games against the winless Bengals, the Browns have an opportunity to make life easier on themselves.
At this point, the Browns likely have to win out the rest of the season to reach the playoffs. That will be difficult considering they still have to face the Ravens one more time and a cross-country trip to Arizona to face the Cardinals. Only one loss would keep the Browns in contention, but they cannot lose more than one game.
Cleveland does have an opportunity to catch one of the 6-5 teams this upcoming week against the Steelers. The Browns showed just two weeks ago they can line up and beat the Steelers, even though this game is going to carry even more emotion than the first game because of the brawl. But if Cleveland can continue the momentum they’ve built up and defeat a Pittsburgh that has a huge question mark, the Browns can put themselves in an even better position in the playoff hunt.
The Browns are going to need help if they want to reach the postseason, but they got some on Sunday. And if the Browns can take care of business on against the Steelers, they will have at least taken one more team out of the way of their path to the playoffs.
One issue for the Browns is that the two other 6-5 teams, the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, are in the same division and will face each other one more time this season. That means at least one of these teams will stay ahead of the Browns in the standing and will need to lose one or two more times in their four other final games for the Browns to jump them.
It is still an uphill climb for the Browns and they have to handle their own business the rest of the season if they want to make it to the postseason. But the path is not as difficult as it was just a few weeks ago for the Browns.