AFC playoff picture: Browns strengthen their position

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The Browns’ 24-3 win at Cincinnati on Thursday night puts Cleveland in a first-place tie with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North at 6-3.

However, if the playoffs started today, the Steelers would have the divisional tie-breaking edge on account of a superior record to the Browns in games against common opponents (2-2 for Pittsburgh, compared to 1-2 for Cleveland).

It is, of course, quite early to be thinking about such technicalities. However, the common-games tiebreaker is the third applied after head-to-head play and divisional record when it comes to deciding a division titlist. And with the Browns and Steelers splitting the season series and having the same AFC North record at the moment (2-2), the common-games factor is one to watch. Could we really have a scenario where, say, the Browns’ loss to the Jaguars or the Steelers’ late fade vs. the Buccaneers decides the AFC North?


On another note, the Bengals’ loss drops them to the No. 9 seed in the AFC, per the NFL standings.

Here’s a look at the updated AFC’s playoff seedings, with the Browns-Bengals result included:


1. New England Patriots (7-2). AFC East leader. Earns first-round bye, home-field advantage.

2. Denver Broncos (6-2). AFC West leader. Earns first-round bye.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3). AFC North leader. Holds common-games tiebreaker over Cleveland, hosts Chiefs in wild-card game.

4. Indianapolis Colts (6-3). AFC South leader. Hosts Browns in wild-card game, falls to No. 4 seed because of head-to-head loss with Pittsburgh.

5. Cleveland Browns (6-3). Wild card. Earns top wild card on account of having best record of the non-division winners.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (5-3). Wild card. Garners final wild-card spot on account of superior AFC record (4-2) to Buffalo (2-3).


7. Buffalo Bills (5-3).

8. Miami Dolphins (5-3). Ranks behind Buffalo on account of head-to-head loss.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1).

10. San Diego Chargers (5-4).

11. Baltimore Ravens (5-4). Ranks behind San Diego on account of conference record (2-4). Chargers are 4-3 in AFC.

12. Houston Texans (4-5).

33 responses to “AFC playoff picture: Browns strengthen their position

  1. AFC is such a log jam this year. It’s both awesome and depressing. Awesome because it means the intensity of each game is just going to go up from here, depressing because a 10 or 11 win team is going to miss the postseason, giving the NFL even more jusification for its silly 14-team playoff idea.

  2. As a fan of one of the usual bottom feeders of the league,(Redskins) it really pleases me when a team like the Browns goes on a run or has a successful season. Go Brownies!

  3. Who would have thought about 4 weeks that these three upcoming games would be important.

  4. You had to see this coming, the Browns have something the Bungals don’t have, a set of balls.

  5. I knew Hoyer would do well and have to congratulate the Browns on a huge divisional win! The whole Manzier thing will go the way of Tebowmania soon when they trade him for a pick in next years draft, Johnny football talked his way out of the starters job and onto someones wish list for a fill in QB to run out the season or as a practice dummy.

  6. The browns really? Man the AFC conference is so weak compared to the NFC. The Super Bowl winner will be an NFC team, book it.

    Other teams fans envy our teams players. Other teams players envy our teams fans. #choochoohawksdynastytrain
    #12thmanisheretostay #dynastybeforeyoureyes #kissthering

  7. Call me crazy, but I think that the AFC champion will be either the Patriots or the Steelers. The Steelers are playing really good and getting hot at the right time. I wish for the Colts to make a push, but without a pash rusher that task is going to be really hard.

  8. 6-3 with 7 games to play… let’s hope the Browns don’t end 6-10. They have worked hard, and endured a lot, for a playoff run.

  9. 11 teams in the AFC with a winning record compared to 7 in the NFC. 11-6 in teams with 5+ wins. AFCN has 4 teams with winning records and the NFCS has 0. At least the 2 best teams in the league reside in the AFC.

    The NFC had a stranglehold the past couple seasons but the tide has shifted. The AFC is the stronger conference and honestly its not that close right now.

  10. I like seeing the Browns in the mix, but the facts are they beat Raiders, Bucs and other losers in recent games. The rest of the schedule looks tough. I see 8-8 at best. The Chiefs get one WC and the Dolphins and Bills battle for the other. Book it!

  11. The Steelers are playing well and have the easiest remaining schedule of any playoff contender. Denver’s and Indy’s remaining schedules are also relatively easy, but, playing weak teams makes a team soft come playoff time.

  12. Lol … Every team still has 7 games to play.
    The team that gets hot from week 12 and on will win the AFC and NFC titles.

  13. The Writer Mike Wilkening stated above quote: The Browns’ 24-3 win at Cincinnati on Thursday night puts Cleveland in a first-place tie with Pittsburgh atop the AFC North at 6-3. ***(Correct)***

    However, if the playoffs started today, the Steelers would have the divisional tie-breaking edge on account of a superior record to the Browns in games against common opponents (2-2 for Pittsburgh, compared to 1-2 for Cleveland). ***(Wrong)***

    Mike is wrong at what he said above. Both the Browns and Steelers are both 2-2 in their division. The Browns beat the Steelers and Bengals and also lost to the Steelers and Ravens. The Steelers lost to the Browns and Ravens making both teams 2-2. They are tied and if the season was to end today I believe the Browns would be on top of the Steelers being the Browns lost the first game between the two my 3 points and won the second game by 21 points.

  14. Brady is washed up and should be traded…

    Belichick can’t draft and has only drafted 4 QBs who have started 2014 NFL games

    The Patriots can’t win without cheating – except when they win more than any other team since 2007 (but any time they lose it’s because they can’t win without cheating)

  15. I consider myself an educated person, but for the life of me cannot figure out how steelers have a 2-2 vs browns 1-2 record against common opponents. Wouldn’t the “common” mean the same amount of games?

  16. Both are 2-2 vs common opponents but Steelers have a better intraconference record since one of their losses came to an NFC team the Bucs (ugh) and all 3 of the Browns were vs. AFC teams.

  17. Point differential should be 3rd tiebreaker after head-to-head record and divisional record. You learn very little from “common opponents” (i.e. 1-7 Bucs beat Pitt, lose to Cle; 1-7 Jags beat Cle, lose to Pitt). What do you take from that?

    If you want to know who is better — Cleveland or Pittsburgh — look at how they played one another. Steelers eeked one out 30-27 in Pittsburgh. Browns completely de-pantsed them 31-10 in Cleveland.

    In two meetings Cleveland outscored Pittsburgh 61-37. Therefore, if the Browns and Steelers finish with identical overall records and divisional records, tiebreaker should go to Cleveland because they displayed on the field that they were the better team. And really the 2nd game should’ve been 31-3. Ben got a garbage TD with under 3:00 left to pad his stats.

  18. Stop using our loss in the early weeks against us,,,,clearly you can observe that this Steelers team is a complete different team on both sides of the ball,big up to the browns, and Steelers capture the north to keep us kings of the north,,check the stats i know negative words are coming,since 2002 Steelers are still kings of the north number wise,we still own more afc titles in this era and lets not mention rings haaa,,,browns will be the browns come playoffs

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