As we head into the final week of the NFL season, the Cleveland Browns are one of several AFC teams still looking to get into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Browns have suddenly been hit with COVID-19 issues that have caused some players to miss time and have the practice facility shut down for a couple of days. This problem couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Browns.
Trouble in Week 16
The second-to-last week of the NFL season gave the Cleveland Browns a game they should have easily won. They were put up against the New York Jets, a team with only one win going into the game. That single win was against the Los Angeles Rams and it seems the Jets were riding high coming into Week 16.
Unfortunately, the Jets’ momentum wasn’t all that would plague the Browns. After reports of close-contact for COVID-19 tracing, four of the wide receivers for the Browns were ruled out for the game. This decision came down only a day before the game, which did not leave much time for Kevin Stefanski, head coach of the Browns, to prepare a different game plan. This factor, along with the poor play on the field, led to a Jets win over the Browns and put Cleveland in a precarious position.
How Can the Cleveland Browns Make the Playoffs?
Win and They are In
The first scenario for the Browns to make the playoffs is to win their game during Week 17. They are set to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team with a 12-3 record coming into the game. Thankfully for the Browns, the Steelers are already planning to sit many of their starters, which could leave the door open for the Browns to get into the playoffs.
A Tie and the Browns Need Some Help
Another possibility, if the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers should tie, the Browns would need some help to get into the playoffs. They would need the Indianapolis Colts to lose or tie to the Jacksonville Jaguars, a loss by the Miami Dolphins to the Buffalo Bills would also help, as would a loss by the Baltimore Ravens to the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Tennessee Titans were to lose to the Houston Texas, that would also put the Browns in the playoffs after a tie.
What Happens if the Browns Lose?
Strangely enough, the Cleveland Browns can still make the playoffs if they lose to the Steelers. They could still qualify for the postseason if the Cots lose to the Jaguars or all of the following happens. They would need the Titans to lose to the Texans, Dolphins to win/tie with the Bills, and the Ravens to win/tie with the Bengals.
A Win is the Best Scenario, but it Might be a Long Shot
While the best-case-scenario for the Cleveland Browns is for them to win the game against the Steelers, COVID-19 issues are making this difficult. In fact, this virus is creating a monumental task, and it seems fitting that it’s raising its ugly head again when the Browns are about to go against the Steelers who had their entire schedule changed due to virus issues on opposing teams all year.
After the troubles with the virus took place in Week 16, the Browns have now had two more players test positive for COVID-19. This has caused the team to shut down the practice facility, which makes it extremely difficult for the Browns to prepare for the game.
No Extra Wee in the Works
At one point in the NFL season, discussions were being had regarding the potential need for a Week 18 schedule if too many teams were struck with COVID-19 issues. With all teams set to play on Sunday, January 3, which is when all Week 17 games are being played, there isn’t any flexibility left to allow the Browns vs Steelers to be moved. In fact, other games on the schedule have moved to different time slots to avoid giving one team an unfair advantage over another.
The Question Looms Large for the Cleveland Browns
As we come closer to the end of the NFL regular season, the question will get answered as to whether or not COVID-19 is going to keep the Browns out of the playoffs. With several scenarios that can help them get in, it seems they are in the driver’s seat, but the virus might have the final say in this matter.