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The Cleveland Browns are essentially already in the 2023 NFL Playoffs

The Cleveland Browns are essentially already in the 2023 NFL Playoffs

Following the 2022 – 2023 season, the Cleveland Browns and their fans were left with a sour taste in their mouth. They had yet again failed at making the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

In a controversial signing, the Browns brought in all-pro quarterback Deshaun Watson to try and revitalize their newly competitive team after letting go of their prior field general, Baker Mayfield. The controversy around the signing that happened last year was the allegations against Watson, which contained multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment, which resulted in a full season suspension.

The last time the team had made the playoffs was in the 2020 – 2021 season after quarterback Baker Mayfield led them to an 11 – 5 record and a sixth place seed in the bracket. They won an exciting game against the third seed Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round, but eventually fell to the first seed Kansas City Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes and Taylor Swift’s boyfriend.

With that being said, I believe they have an almost guaranteed shot at the playoffs.

Now, the Browns will always do very Browns things, but when you consider their current record of 8 – 5 and their upcoming schedule, it would be pretty difficult to be eliminated from a playoff berth. The only slightly unfortunate circumstance that the Browns face on a year to year basis is the division they’re in.

The AFC North has been regarded as one of the best, if not the absolute best, division in football for as long as I’ve been alive, and this year is no different. Although the Bengals lost their franchise quarterback Joe Burrow for the remainder of the season due to multiple poor judgment calls to continue playing him after he injured his calf, they still currently hold an above average record at 7 – 6. And they have the worst record in the division.

The Ravens currently lead the division at 10 – 3 with one of their nine wins coming against the Browns, as well as one of their three losses coming from Cleveland.

The final divisional opponent I haven’t mentioned is the Pittsburgh Steelers. They could very well be a roadblock to the Browns playoff hopes because even though they’ve had one of the worst offenses statistically, similar to the Browns, their defense has carried them to a 7 – 6 record, just below Cleveland.

When it comes to seeding for the playoffs, the first four spots are given to the leaders of each division, and the last three spots are assigned to the teams with the best records that aren’t the division leaders. With that being said, the Browns are currently in second place in the division, which would give them the fifth seed if the season ended right now.

The reason I believe that the Cleveland Browns have an, almost, guaranteed shot at the playoffs is based on their upcoming schedule. The Browns play one sub .500 team in their final three games of the season, being the New York Jets. Along with that game, they also play the Cincinnati Bengals, in which the Browns have historically dominated the series. With breathing room to possibly lose their third game to the Houston Texans, which now looks less probable with the injury of Houston receiver Tank Dell, the Browns should have no problem winning out the season.

On top of the easy schedule ahead, the Browns newly signed veteran quarterback, Joe Flacco, has been playing out of his mind. It’s almost as if he re-entered his 2013 prime when he won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. The success Flacco has had could also be attributed to the rise of starting tight end, David Njoku. Njoku had always been an underrated player, but he’s proven himself even more at the back end of the season after having a rather mediocre start to his 2023 campaign. Finally, the real reason the Browns are true contenders is their defense. They have the best defense in the league and it’s been that way since the beginning of the season. They have virtually no holes in their defensive depth chart, spearheaded by all-pro defensive end, Myles Garrett. The Browns allow the least amount of total yards and pass yards per game, which has helped them tremendously to their 9 – 5 record.

All the Browns need to do is win two, maybe even one, of their final three games, and a playoff berth is not only possible, but practically guaranteed.

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    JimmyDec 24, 2023 at 4:24 pm

    I honestly don’t think that the Browns would be where they’re at if Watson was able to play. Flacco makes him look like a pee-wee football player. What a waste of money!