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Should you bet Browns to make the playoffs heading into Week 14?

We discuss whether or not you should bet on the Browns to make the AFC playoffs.

Amari Cooper #2 of the Cleveland Browns runs with the ball past Ahkello Witherspoon #44 of the Los Angeles Rams in the first quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 03, 2023 in Inglewood, California. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are coming off a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13. The good news was that there were times when Joe Flacco looked like he could be the starter going forward, but the bad news is that Amari Cooper picked up an injury, and the Cleveland defense was nowhere to be found. With a 7-5 record heading into Week 14, should you bet on the Browns to make the playoffs at DraftKings Sportsbook?

Upcoming Schedule

Week 14: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 15: vs. Chicago Bears
Week 16: @ Houston Texans
Week 17: vs. New York Jets
Week 18: @ Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland needs to get healthy quickly. Dorian Thompson-Robinson remains in the concussion protocol entering the week, and we haven’t been updated on the full diagnosis for Cooper. It also looked like Myles Garrett may be banged up on the defensive line. They will face the Jaguars in Week 14, likely without quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Christian Kirk. Lawrence was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and is considered week-to-week by head coach Doug Pederson, while Kirk suffered a core muscle injury that may require surgery.

Cleveland gets the Bears at home, and they have been playing more consistently recently. If the Browns’ defense is indeed banged up, Chicago quarterback Justin Fields could be in for a big game. The Bears are still technically in the running for the NFC playoffs, but they are more likely playing for pride.

Arguably the toughest game left on Cleveland’s schedule is the Texans’ on the road. Not only is this an AFC matchup, but both teams are vying for a limited number of playoff spots. This could be the make-or-break game for Cleveland’s getting into the playoffs, as it will likely give one team the head-to-head advantage in a tiebreaker.

The Browns should be able to take down the New York Jets, especially if the latter is still struggling to find a quarterback. Aaron Rodgers says he could be back under center by then, but it may depend on whether New York is in a position to make the playoffs, which I don’t project they are by the time this matchup comes up on the schedule.

It seemed like Cincinnati’s season would be down once Joe Burrow went down with his injury. Backup Jake Browning picked up a big Week 13 victory over the Jaguars, and if Cincinnati is at full strength, this game could be very important for the AFC playoff picture.

Final record prediction: For now, I think the Browns will finish the season 9-8, missing the playoffs. The game against Jacksonville could go either way, depending on who is healthy enough to play in it. For now, I have them losing to the Jaguars and then beating the Bears in Week 15. I think Cleveland will lose to Houston, beat the Jets and then lose to Cincinnati in the final game of the season.

AFC playoff standings heading into Week 14

  1. Miami Dolphins
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Kansas City Chiefs
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers
  6. Cleveland Browns
  7. Indianapolis Colts
  8. Houston Texans
  9. Denver Broncos
  10. Buffalo Bills
  11. Cincinnati Bengals
  12. Los Angeles Chargers
  13. Las Vegas Raiders
  14. New York Jets
  15. Tennessee Titans
  16. New England Patriots

The Browns currently have the No. 6 seed but have the same record as the Colts and Texans. Cleveland owns the tiebreaker over Indy due to a head-to-head matchup, and the Browns will face the Texans later on in the season. The Broncos, Bills and Bengals are all within one game, meaning that Cleveland can’t afford to lose too many games down the stretch. One or two specific losses will make it so they need some help from other teams to crack into the top seven seeds.

Verdict

For now, don’t bet on the Browns to make the playoffs. Their upcoming game against the Jaguars will be a good measuring stick for upcoming matchups. If they can’t beat a team missing its starting quarterback and No. 1 wide receiver, it will be fairly telling in judging their upside for the remainder of the season.