The Cleveland Browns held a small hope of making the NFL playoffs entering Week 16. Unfortunately, before they even touched the field on Sunday, those postseason dreams were dashed. Sitting at 6-7-1, the Browns needed a helping hand from a few teams this week to keep the hope alive heading into the final game of the season.
But their fate was decided on Saturday afternoon, in the very first game of the week. As the Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans battled back-and-forth in a tight game mostly throughout, Browns fans were likely glued to the TV. If the Titans lost, it meant the dream remained alive for Cleveland until the night game between the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers.
As we saw, the odds weren’t in the Browns’ favor on the first day of Week 16. So, let’s take a look at what ended Cleveland’s postseason push before they even kicked off Sunday.
How the Browns’ Playoff Hopes Ended
First, the fact that the Browns were in the playoff mix this deep into the year after a 0-16 season is nothing short of incredible. It’s been quite a turnaround for the franchise, and behind the likes of Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb (among many others) the team’s outlook remains very bright.
But on Saturday, the Titans were unable to help Cleveland out, as they knocked off the Redskins. That alone ended the playoff dream, but to show that just the one game didn’t matter, the Ravens also pulled off a surprising upset over the Chargers in the night game.
Even before this week began, the Browns held chances of just 0.00005 to make the playoffs, according to MakeNFLPlayoffs.com. It was a tough day of action for a rapidly-improving team, and although there are no moral victories in sports, the Browns and the fanbase should feel good about the future.
Positive Outlook and Browns’ Young Playmakers
The defensive side of the ball for the Browns boasts their own impressive group of playmakers who have flashed upside. There’s obviously still work to do on both sides of the ball, but we’ve seen flashes from the likes of Jabrill Peppers, Denzel Ward, Myles Garrett, and multiple others. The defense wasn’t perfect this year, but the arrow is pointing up.
As for the offense, Mayfield’s emergence after the Tyrod Taylor injury helped to ignite this offense. The No. 1 pick has thrown for 3,065 yards in 12 games, along with 21 passing touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. His fellow rookie in Chubb has been great since being named the starter after the Carlos Hyde trade and has totaled 860 rushing yards, 150 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
The fact Chubb posted such a strong stat line (with games remaining) is eye-opening considering he didn’t receive more than three carries in a single game until Week 7. Since that point, he’s received 18 or more carries in six of eight games.