2. Cleveland Browns (9-5)
This past weekend was a roller-coaster. The Cleveland Browns came out flat and played sloppy for the majority of the game. Joe Flacco had three interceptions which led to 14 points and the Bears were up 17-7 entering the fourth quarter. Then, Cleveland woke up.
Dustin Hopkins hit a field goal from 33 yards out to cut the lead to just seven. The defense continued to do its part and got the offense the ball back. With just 3:08 left to play, Flacco hit Amari Cooper on the sideline and the veteran wideout broke free for a 51-yard touchdown. Suddenly, it was 17-17 and all the momentum was with the good guys in brown — and orange.
Again, the defense did their job and forced a three-and-out, giving Flacco and the offense the ball with under two minutes. They wound up getting into range for the game-winner from Hopkins, who nailed it from 34 yards out. A Hail Mary attempt at the end nearly ruined everything but D'Anthony Bell came up with a pick after Darnell Mooney dropped the touchdown.
Now at 9-5, the Browns are guaranteed a winning campaign. This will be just their fourth winning season since returning to the league in 1999 and their second in the past four years under Kevin Stefanski. He has this team playing at a high level and their confidence is through the roof. The old Browns would have folded but this time, they proved they were full of fighters and wound up stealing a win that seemed improbable.
Cleveland now has a chance to put up double-digit wins as they head to Houston for Week 16. They return home in Week 17 to face the Jets and close out the season in Cincinnati. They control their playoff fate and all three of these games are winnable.