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What are the Cleveland Browns' playoff odds after loss vs. Miami Dolphins?

The Cleveland Browns enter their Week 11 matchup with the Buffalo Bills with a 3-6 record.
Credit: AP
Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (43) tackles Cleveland Browns tight end Harrison Bryant (88) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

CLEVELAND — With a 39-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns fell to 3-6 on the season.

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Yet despite having lost five of their last six games, the Browns remain alive in the AFC playoff picture -- although their margin for error is continuing to shrink.

According to advanced analytics website Five Thirty-Eight, Cleveland currently has an eight percent chance of making the postseason. Those odds, however, could dramatically increase over the course of the next two weeks, as Cleveland plays its final two games before Deshaun Watson is eligible to make his 2022 debut against the Houston Texans on Dec. 4.

With just eight weeks remaining in the 2022 season, the Browns' path to the playoffs -- or what's left of it -- is coming into focus. With that in mind, let's take a look at where Cleveland stands in the AFC playoff picture heading into their Week 11 matchup vs. the Buffalo Bills.

AFC North

AFC North standings

  1. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
  3. Cleveland Browns (3-6)
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)

While the Browns lay claim to a 2-1 division record, Cleveland currently remains in third place and a full three games behind the Baltimore Ravens and two games behind the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Browns have one game remaining against each of their three division opponents remaining, catching Baltimore will be no easy task, as the Ravens lay claim to the NFL's fourth-easiest remaining schedule according to Football Outsiders' DVOA (the Bengals possess the most difficult remaining schedule, while Cleveland has the seventh-most difficult remaining schedule based on the same measurement).

According to Five Thirty-Eight, the Browns currently possess just a two percent chance of winning the AFC North, which would mark Cleveland's first division title since 1989. A win over the Bills this weekend coupled with a Ravens loss to the Carolina Panthers and a Bengals loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, would increase the Browns' chances of winning the division to 14 percent.

Through 16 weeks, here's how the AFC Playoff picture looks:

AFC Wild Card

Division Leaders

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
  2. Miami Dolphins (7-3)
  3. Tennessee Titans (6-3)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

Wild Card

  1. New York Jets (6-3)
  2. Buffalo Bills (6-3)
  3. New England Patriots (5-4)
  4. Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4)
  6. Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1)
  7. Cleveland Browns (3-6)
  8. Denver Broncos (3-6)
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

Although the Browns' likeliest path to the playoffs is currently via a Wild Card spot, Cleveland has its work cut out for itself in that regard. Currently, the Browns are in seventh place in the AFC Wild Card standings, with the top three non-division winners qualifying for postseason play.

But while Cleveland is only two games back of third place in the standings, the Browns have lost head-to-head tiebreakers against three of the teams ranked ahead of them in the Jets, Patriots and Chargers. Considering the competitive nature of the AFC East -- currently all four of its teams are in position to qualify for the playoffs -- this weekend's head-to-head matchup against Buffalo could prove pivotal.

With a win over the Bills alone, Cleveland will increase its playoff chances from eight percent to 22 percent. A loss, however, will knock the Browns' postseason odds down to at least five percent heading into a Week 12 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What's ahead?

Here are the games left on the Browns' 2022 schedule:

  • Nov. 20 at Buffalo Bills
  • Nov. 27 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Dec. 4 at Houston Texans
  • Dec. 11 at Cincinnati Bengals
  • Dec. 18 vs. Baltimore Ravens
  • Dec. 24 vs. New Orleans Saints
  • Jan. 1 at Washington Commanders
  • Jan. 8 at Pittsburgh Steelers

While Watson's impending return in two weeks could certainly change the complexion of what's left of Cleveland's season, how the Browns perform in the next two weeks will determine what's left to play for. 

With a pair of losses to the Bills and Buccaneers, Cleveland will be all but eliminated from postseason contention before Watson ever plays his first regular-season game for the Browns. A pair of wins, however, would increase Cleveland's postseason chances to at least 36 percent heading into the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback's 2022 debut.

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