Browns Nearly Double Playoff Chances, Shift Projected AFC Wild Card Race

Browns Nearly Double Playoff Chances, Shift Projected AFC Wild Card Race article feature image
  • The Cleveland Browns nearly doubled their playoff chances according to our model thanks to their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • The Thursday Night Football result also works in favor of the Oakland Raiders, who take over as the current 6-seed.

The Thursday Night Football brawl (and Myles Garrett’s subsequent indefinite suspension) is dominating headlines following the Cleveland Browns’ victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. But lost in the wake of the game is just how much the win means for Cleveland and the AFC playoff picture.

After a disappointing 2-6 start (which featured a four-game losing streak), Baker Mayfield and Co. are beginning to turn the tide with two straight wins and a favorable remaining schedule.

According to our Bet Labs model, which simulates the rest of the season 10,000 times, Thursday night’s win nearly doubled the Browns’ chances of making the playoffs from 11.40% to 20.02%.

It’s still only a one-in-five chance, but it’s a crowded AFC wild-card race, and Cleveland has a favorable rest-of-season schedule:

  • Week 12: vs. Dolphins
  • Week 13: at Steelers
  • Week 14: vs. Bengals
  • Week 15: at Cardinals
  • Week 16: vs. Ravens
  • Week 17: at Bengals

The trip to Baltimore will be tough, but getting the winless Bengals twice as well as the Dolphins and Cardinals bodes well for the Browns’ projections. In fact, they average 7.57 wins in our latest simulations. The model still projects them for a 10th-place finish in the AFC, but that could change if a few more factors fall in their favor.

The Raiders, meanwhile, are the biggest immediate beneficiary of Thursday’s result. The loss bumps the Steelers out of the No. 6 seed, paving the way for the Raiders to take over the final spot for now.

Now let’s take a look at our full AFC projections.

Projected Final AFC Standings

We projected the top four seeds by ranking the most likely division winners by their chances to land the 1-4 seeds. Then we ranked the rest of the teams based on average wins.

1. New England Patriots

  • Playoff Chances: 99.98%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 13.23
  • Current Record: 8-1

2. Baltimore Ravens

  • Playoff Chances: 97.64%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 11.46
  • Current Record: 7-2

3. Houston Texans

  • Playoff Chances: 85.94%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 10.03
  • Current Record: 6-3

4. Kanas City Chiefs

  • Playoff Chances: 81.65%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 9.61
  • Current Record: 6-4

5. Buffalo Bills

  • Playoff Chances: 63.45%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 9.29
  • Current Record: 6-3

6. Indianapolis Colts

  • Playoff Chances: 40.44%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 8.48
  • Current Record: 5-4

7. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Playoff Chances: 37.53%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 8.28
  • Current Record: 5-5

8. Oakland Raiders

  • Playoff Chances: 31.34%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 8.14
  • Current Record: 5-4

9. Tennessee Titans

  • Playoff Chances: 18.30%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 7.68
  • Current Record: 5-5

10. Cleveland Browns

  • Playoff Chances: 20.02%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 7.57
  • Current Record: 4-6

11. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Playoff Chances: 12.62%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 7.19
  • Current Record: 4-6

12. Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Playoff Chances: 9.29%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 7.03
  • Current Record: 4-5

13. Denver Broncos

  • Playoff Chances: 1.60%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 5.57
  • Current Record: 3-6

14. New York Jets

  • Playoff Chances: 0.20%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 5.25
  • Current Record: 2-7

15. Miami Dolphins

  • Playoff Chances: 0.00%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 3.9
  • Current Record: 2-7

16. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Playoff Chances: 0.00%
  • Proj. Average Wins: 1.99
  • Current Record: 0-9