Can The Cleveland Browns Win The AFC North?

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Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. Usually in the month of December the Cleveland Browns are hoping to just win an NFL football game.

2018 is different. With three games remaining in the regular season, the Browns playoff hopes are still alive. Cleveland’s 26-20 victory over the Carolina Panthers kept their slim playoff hopes alive. Losses by the rest of the AFC North in week 14 also helps.

“You are looking at a hungry team,” wide receiver Jarvis Landry said following Sunday’s win. “You are looking at a hungry town that loves their team and honestly who does not want to play in a playoff game? With the opportunity to go and play in February, it is something that, golly, you can’t miss.”

So can the Browns go from 0-16 to a playoff birth, yes. The best way for Cleveland to play football in January is to win the AFC North title. Here is what needs to happen.

The Browns must win their final three games against the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens.

The AFC North division leading Pittsburgh Steelers must lose their final three games against the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and the Bengals.

Baltimore also has to lose to either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Los Angeles Chargers on addition to losing to the Browns in week 17.

So you got all that? Well good. Winning the AFC North is the only realistic path to the Browns first playoff birth since the 2002 season. If Cleveland wins the AFC North, they would host a playoff game for the first since returning to the NFL in 1999. The Browns last home playoff game took place at old Municipal stadium in the 1994 season.

Browns scenario to claim an AFC Wildcard spot

The bottom line is this, the Browns have to run the table to even be in the running for the playoffs. The players and coaches still have to remain focus on the task at hand this week, the Broncos.

“Our goal is to finish with a winning record for the first time in a long time, defensive back Damarious Randall said. “Every game is important, even if we aren’t going to playoffs, and we still want to finish 8-2-1 regardless. Even if we have to ruin somebody else’s playoff hopes, we really do not care. We are going into winning every game.”

“It means a lot,” cornerback Terrance Mitchell said. “We are playing for the city and to defy all odds. We just have to keep working and keep building.”

‘We’re still in that hunt, but if we do not take it one game at a time, none of that matters,” Baker Mayfield said. “We have to take care of business one week at a time, and we did that today against a veteran defense and a good team. I do not care what anybody says. There are a lot of guys on that team that can make plays and play well. We are at a point right now that we have been building for this moment and we need to continue to build. We do not need to be satisfied whatsoever. Right now, we have a short week and then we go to Denver.”

Scott Piker is the Cleveland BrownsCleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage.com. So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport

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