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How can the Browns clinch a playoff spot in Week 16?

We discuss the scenarios that could see the Cleveland Browns clinching a playoff spot in Week 16.

David Njoku #85 and Joe Flacco #15 of the Cleveland Browns celebrate after a touchdown during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns find themselves firmly in the playoff race and in better position than much of the AFC. They’ve overcome numerous issues on their quarterback depth chart and somehow head into Week 16 with a chance to clinch a playoff berth with Joe Flacco helming their offense.

The Browns defense has been the key, but Flacco has made critical plays to lead them to two straight wins and a 9-5 record. They came back from a ten-point deficit in Week 15 to win after avoiding a near Hail Mary completion as time expired. They now head into Week 16 with a chance to clinch a wild card berth if they win and get a lot of help.

Update: The Browns beat the Texans but did not get the help they needed. The Steelers and Bills both won on Saturday, which eliminated all of the Browns’ clinching scenarios before they played on Sunday.

Cleveland Browns playoff clinching scenarios - Week 16

  1. CLE win + DEN loss/tie + IND loss/tie + BUF loss + MIA win/tie
  2. CLE win + PIT loss/tie + DEN loss/tie + IND win + JAX loss
  3. CLE win + PIT loss/tie + DEN loss/tie + MIA win/tie + BUF loss
  4. CLE win + PIT loss/tie + DEN loss/tie + MIA win/tie + IND loss
  5. CLE win + PIT loss/tie + DEN loss/tie + MIA win/tie + JAX loss
  6. CLE win + PIT loss + BUF loss + MIA win/tie + IND win + JAX loss
  7. CLE win + PIT loss + BUF loss + KC win + IND win + JAX loss
  8. CLE win + PIT tie + BUF loss + IND win + JAX loss

The Browns travel to face the Houston Texans on Christmas Eve. Houston is a 2.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook as they should be getting star rookie C.J. Stroud back in the starting lineup after a concussion kept him out in Week 15.

Below is a look at odds for each of the teams involved in the Browns’ various scenarios. A Bills loss seems unlikely, which would eliminate five of the eight scenarios. A Broncos loss is not likely, but probably has a slightly better chance of happening than a Bills loss. A Broncos win would eliminate five scenarios as well, with enough overlapping with the Bills so that all eight clinching scenarios would be eliminated.

Broncos (-6.5) vs. Patriots
Colts (+1) @ Falcons
Bills (-10.5) @ Chargers
Dolphins (-1.5) vs. Cowboys
Steelers (+2) vs. Bengals
Jaguars (-1) @ Buccaneers