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How The 7-8 Cleveland Browns Are Closing In On AFC North Title
In one of the most wild NFL seasons in recent memory, the Cleveland Browns are somehow closing in on a division title ahead of Week 17.
The Browns are 7-8, their lowest point in Kevin Stefanski's tenure. Questions surrounding quarterback play, play calling, and organizational direction loom despite the team being the closest they've been to winning the AFC North crown in the expansion era.
For weeks, seemingly everything has gone Cleveland's way—besides their own games—to keep the Browns "in the hunt."
While Cleveland no longer controls their own playoff destiny, here's what needs to happen to make another magical playoff push:
- Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) defeat Baltimore Ravens
- Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) defeat Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns (-2.5) defeat Pittsburgh Steelers
- Cleveland Browns defeat Cincinnati Bengals in Week 18
Everything Cleveland needs to happen to win the AFC North is the betting favorite in Week 17. Despite still being underdogs to win the division (+600), the Browns certainly have a puncher's chance. It's all very doable.
The Battle of Ohio in Week 18 remains the biggest obstacle in front of the Browns. No odds have been set for that matchup quite yet.
For Browns fans, the good news is that Baker Mayfield has owned Cincinnati throughout his Browns tenure. Mayfield is 6-1 against the Bengals and 3-0 against Joe Burrow in his career.
Burrow's Bengals are red hot, coming off a huge 41-21 win over the Ravens and another big matchup against the Chiefs.
Recently, the Browns offense has struggled to put up 20 points, let alone 40. Cleveland's defense is much better and healthier than Baltimore's, but unless Mayfield and Stefanski can figure things out, this will be the uphill battle to complete the playoff birth.
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