Updated AFC playoff picture after Week 16 and how the Browns get in

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Jeff Risdon
·2 min read
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The Cleveland Browns entered Week 16 with their playoff destiny in their own hands. Win against the New York Jets and then against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 and Cleveland would have finished no worse than the No. 5 seed and top Wild Card.

Alas, that did not happen. The dilapidated Browns fell to the Jets, 23-16. And while they can still control their own fate with a win in Week 17, the outlook is a lot less rosy after the weekend’s action.

Miami kicked off the AFC weekend with a stirring comeback win over the Raiders that eliminated Las Vegas. After rookie Tua Tagovailoa was benched, veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick took over at quarterback for Miami and authored an improbable final drive to set up the game-winning field goal.

The Dolphins improved to 10-5 with the win. Miami does own the multi-team tiebreaker over all the other 10-5 teams, of which the Browns find themselves as well.

The Colts are also 10-5 after blowing a big lead against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh’s comeback win cemented the AFC North title and made their Week 17 game in Cleveland inconsequential for the division crown. The Colts fell out of the playoff picture due to the tie-breakers, behind the Browns and the Ravens.

Baltimore jumped in from the outside by thumping the New York Giants, 27-13. The Ravens have won four in a row and seized the No. 6 seed with the win. The Browns, who lost both games to Baltimore during the season, are the No. 7 seed right now.

How the Browns clinch

Cleveland clinches a berth with a win over the Steelers. No matter what else happens in Week 17, the Browns are still “win and they’re in”. The seeding is complicated, but that’s for next week.

The Browns can also sneak in the back door if the Colts lose to the Jaguars. Jacksonville clinched the No. 1 overall pick when the Jets beat the Browns, so there is no reason for the Jaguars to tank.

Another possibility still in play: if the Titans lose in both Week 16 and Week 17, the Browns are in, win or lose, next week. Tennessee plays Green Bay on Sunday night and is on the road for 4-11 Houston in Week 17.

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