CLEVELAND — Despite suffering a 38-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns haven't been eliminated from playoff contention.
At least not officially.
According to ESPN's Jake Trotter, ESPN's FPI only gives the Browns a 0.8 percent chance of making the playoffs -- the lowest odds Cleveland has possessed all season. And for the first time all season, the Browns' postseason destiny is no longer in their own hands as even a win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday may not be enough to save them from elimination.
What should Cleveland be rooting for and what possesses the potential to extend the Browns' postseason drought to a 17th season? At this point, it's relatively simple. With that in mind -- and perhaps for the last time -- let's take a look at where Cleveland stands in the AFC Wild Card race.
AFC Wild Card Standings
- Buffalo Bills 10-4
- Pittsburgh Steelers 8-6
- Tennessee Titans 8-6
- Indianapolis Colts 6-7*
- Cleveland Browns 6-8
*Colts face the New Orleans Saints on Monday night
With their win over the Steelers on Sunday, the Bills have clinched the top Wild Card spot -- although that spot could ultimately go to the New England Patriots should Buffalo win the AFC East. Either way, only one Wild Card spot remains open with the Browns trailing the Steelers and Titans by two games each with two games remaining in the 2019 season.
As a result, the only way left for the Browns to make the playoffs would be to win their two remaining games, with both the Steelers and Titans losing out. Additionally, Cleveland needs the Colts to win at least two of its final three games in order to force a four-way tie, as a three-way tie with the Steelers and Titans would go to Tennessee.
Thefour eams' remaining schedules are as follows:
- 12/22 vs. Baltimore Ravens
- 12/29 @ Cincinnati Bengals
- 12/22 @ New York Jets
- 12/29 @ Baltimore Ravens
- 12/22 vs. New Orleans Saints
- 12/29 @ Houston Texans
- 12/16 @ New Orleans Saints
- 12/22 vs. Carolina Panthers
- 12/29 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Based on the NFL's tiebreaker rules for the Wild Card, a three-way tie featuring the Browns, Steelers and Titans would knock out Pittsburgh, but give Tennessee a head-to-head tiebreaker over Cleveland. A four-way tie including the Colts, however, would eliminate both the Titans and Steelers, with Cleveland well-positioned to win a tiebreaker over Indianapolis.
If the Colts go 3-0, however, their 9-7 record would best the Browns' best possible mark of 8-8.
The chances of all of this happening, of course, are slim -- 0.8 percent, if ESPN is to be believed. It's also worth noting that the Browns are currently a 10-point underdog to the Ravens and even if they can pull off an improbable upset, their fate will remain out of their own hands.