Sometimes, it’s not who you play as much as when and where the matchup takes place, and in Denver in Week 12 was a bad time and place for the Cleveland Browns to take on the resurgent Broncos.
Their head-to-head loss against a conference opponent is a negative for the Browns’ playoff chances.
But as ESPN Cleveland notes on Twitter, the team’s postseason hopes are far from doomed.
Still very much alive. pic.twitter.com/XxwXEHQwM1
— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) November 27, 2023
Kevin Stefanski’s team still has an almost 7-in-10 chance to play a postseason game, and their division hopes remain slimmer but not impossible at 8.8 percent.
ESPN’s computer takes into account the math, statistical odds, and tendencies, along with schedule difficulty, but the win-loss records of the remaining teams on their schedule play the biggest part in those calculations.
Cleveland’s opponents have a collective .470 winning percentage, 23rd lowest in the league.
Pittsburgh has a slightly easier slate, coming in with a .441 winning percentage, the 26th-easiest in the NFL.
But the reason the Browns still have division title hopes is that the Ravens still play four teams with winning records.
Baltimore faces San Francisco, Jacksonville, and Miami before their Week 18 matchup against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh faces three teams with winning records, compared to just two (Jacksonville and Houston) for the Browns.
But the where and when comes into play in their Week 13 game against the Rams.
Los Angeles’ starting skill players all returned from injury recently, and they look better than their 5-6 record.
ESPN Cleveland’s playoff calculations show the odds are still in the Browns’ favor though.