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The Cleveland Browns are in a unique position in a very unique year in the AFC. Cleveland came into the season with loads of expectations after a successful season in 2020 and the addition of a lot of talent on the defense. Their 6-6 start to the season has been disappointing but they’ve lost to some very good teams and beaten the good to not so good teams on their schedule.
Going into their Week 13 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, the Browns can own a very key playoff tiebreaker. In order, the NFL’s tiebreaker systems first four are as follows:
Head to head record between the two teams
If in the same division, divisional record
Record in common games
Record in conference
After that, the tiebreakers get really convoluted like “strength of victory” and “strength of schedule.”
With games left against all three AFC North foes, Cleveland has a chance to own the first tiebreaker against Cincinnati and the second against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
The Browns will, likely, need to win at least four of their last five games. Defeating all three divisional opponents would give them a split head-to-head with the Ravens and Steelers while winning the head-to-head tiebreaker versus the Bengals.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh have already lost two games in the division with, assumed for this conversation, another loss to Cleveland making that three. If the Browns win all three divisional games, they will end the season with a divisional record of 4-2, taking any tiebreakers from all three teams in the AFC North.
Of course, the team would have to win enough games to at least tie one of the other AFC North teams for a playoff spot. That probably means winning that fourth game, at least, but Cleveland is only a half-game behind the Steelers, one game behind Cincinnati and two behind Baltimore.
While all the games are important to finish the season, the divisional games are extra important to put the Browns in the best position to make the playoffs.