Kevin Stefanski and the Cleveland Browns continue to control their own playoff destiny.
With their come-from-behind victory over the Chicago Bears, the team maintains its hold on the AFC’s fifth seed.
And the pack nipping at their heels for postseason positioning cooperated a little in Week 15.
That improved the Browns’ playoff odds significantly, as noted by the OBR’s Brad Stainbrook on Twitter.
#Browns chances to make the playoffs: 89% (ESPN)
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) December 18, 2023
According to ESPN’s stat masters, Cleveland has almost a 9-in-10 chance (89 percent) to play in the postseason.
Entering the game against Chicago, the Browns’ odds sat at around 79 percent.
The pack of six teams that started last weekend one game behind the Browns was culled to four.
Denver and Pittsburgh each lost, dropping to 7-7 on the season.
Jacksonville’s Sunday night loss created a five-way logjam at 8-6, along with the Bengals, Colts, Texans, and Bills.
One of the AFC South’s three 8-6 teams has to win the division, leaving four teams to battle Cleveland for a wild card spot.
Beating the Texans this week could all but secure the fifth seed for the Browns.
Jacksonville battles Tampa Bay, currently fighting for the NFL South title, while Indy plays Atlanta.
Pittsburgh can jump back into wild-card contention by slowing down the resurgent Bengals this weekend.
That would also help the Browns heading into a Week 17 Thursday night football battle versus the Jets.
There are multiple scenarios that allow the Browns to clinch the fifth seed in front of that national TV audience, and the team still has a slim chance of catching the Ravens atop the AFC North.