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NFL playoff picture: What does Raiders-Browns mean for AFC standings

The Raiders face the Browns in Cleveland on Saturday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of FirstEnergy Stadium before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 03, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Result: The Raiders beat the Browns 16-14 on a last second field goal. The Raiders and Browns are tied with the Broncos and Dolphins at 7-7, a game back of the three wild card teams.

The NFL playoff picture is incredibly tight in both conferences, so it’s hard to describe any Week 15 game as a true elimination game. And yet, Monday’s Raiders-Browns game is critical to the playoff hopes of both teams. The two wild card contenders kick off at 5 p.m. in Cleveland with the game airing on NFL Network. It was originally scheduled for Saturday, but got moved to Tuesday due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Cleveland.

Raiders playoff picture

Las Vegas is crumbling after a strong start. The Raiders opened the season 5-2, but since Jon Gruden resigned and the team released Henry Ruggs, they’ve lost five of six games to drop to 6-7. They’re currently in last place in the AFC West, 3.5 games back of the first place Chiefs. They’re in 13th place in the overall AFC standings, one game back of the five teams tied for the second and third wild card berths.

Browns playoff picture

The Browns aren’t crumbling quite like the Raiders, but given preseason expectations, this season is a huge disappointment. After a 3-1 start, Cleveland has gone 4-5 and now sits at 7-6. They come into this game in the intensive COVID-19 protocols after placing numerous players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

In spite of their recent struggles, a Week 14 win over Baltimore moved Cleveland into second place. They dropped behind the Bengals this week, but are in an interesting position. If they beat the Raiders, they move into first place while if they lose to the Raiders, they drop into last place.

Cleveland is currently ninth in the overall AFC standings. If they beat Las Vegas, they can move into a tie with five other teams at 8-6.

Rest of the AFC playoff field

Chiefs 34, Chargers 28 (OT)
Colts 27, Patriots 17
Bills 31, Panthers 14
Dolphins 31, Jets 24
Steelers 19, Titans 13
Bengals 15, Broncos 10
Packers 31, Ravens 30