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

The Browns face the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow throwing a pass on the run at Paycor Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Results update: The Bengals beat the Browns to maintain pace with the first place Ravens. They remain in fifth place in the overall standings. The Browns drop to 5-8 and are slipping out of the playoff picture.

Week 14 of the NFL season will continue on Sunday, December 11. The Cleveland Browns will take the short trip to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a battle of AFC North divisional opponents. Kickoff from Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio is set for 1 p.m. ET, and the game will air on CBS.

Browns playoff picture

Cleveland has a 5-7 record heading into this game. With a win, they will stay in third place in the division. They currently sit 10th in the AFC standings, and are unable to move up even if they pull off a victory. Cleveland sits behind the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers, but both of those teams beat the Browns earlier this season, so even if Cleveland wins and they lose, they’d have the same record, and the Browns are on the wrong end of the tiebreaker.

Bengals playoff picture

This is a big week for the Bengals. They have the same record as the Baltimore Ravens at 8-4, but are in second place due to their loss to them in Week 5. With a win against the Browns and a Baltimore loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati will move into first place in the division. If the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs lose and the Bengals win, they would also vault into the No. 1 seed with the head-to-head win over Kansas City and a better divisional record than Buffalo. With a loss, they would remain in second place in the division and would either stay at the No. 5 seed in the playoffs or would fall to No. 6 if the Miami Dolphins were to win.

Tiebreaker implications

This is the second meeting this season between these teams, and the Browns won the first 32-13. The Bengals only play one more divisional game this season, and it will be against the Ravens in Week 18. They have a huge AFC battle with the Bills the week before that could certainly factor into playoff seeding.

The Browns could use a big win on Sunday to spark a playoff push to make a run at the division. They need help, of course, but even after this week, they still have games against the Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers left. If they don’t end up taking the division, they could still sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.