Browns control playoff destiny entering Week 17 showdown with Steelers

Cleveland can clinch a playoff berth with a win vs. Pittsburgh

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Still, despite Sunday's setback against the Jets, the Browns have control of their playoff destiny as they prepare for their regular season finale at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Steelers.

It's as simple as this: Win and in.

"The road goes through Pittsburgh," DE Myles Garrett said. "The Steelers come to play us at our house, and we have to get to the playoffs through them."

With a win over Pittsburgh, Cleveland would clinch one of the three Wild Card spots and lock up its first trip to the playoffs since 2002. A loss doesn't officially eliminate the Browns, but it'd take some significant help from teams that are also fighting for a spot in the postseason.

The Browns could have clinched a playoff spot with a win Sunday over the Jets, but they won't spend much time lamenting what could have been.

"What is ahead of us is everything that we set out to do this season," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. "It is all still right there. We have to make sure that we are very honest about the tape tomorrow when we look at it together and then identify, correct and move on. Then Wednesday, we are getting back to work."

If the season ended today, the Browns would hold the seventh and final playoff spot. Though they carry the same 10-5 record as the Colts, the Browns have the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their 32-23 victory over Indianapolis in Week 5.

The Steelers clinched a playoff spot weeks ago and locked up the AFC North on Sunday with their 34-28 comeback win over the Colts. They'll be playing for the No. 2 seed next week and can't fall any further than No. 3. Kansas City clinched the No. 1 seed, which provides a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, with its win Sunday.

If the Browns lose to the Steelers, they would secure a playoff spot if the Colts also lost to the 1-14 Jaguars. The Browns could also clinch a spot if the Titans lose to the Texans while the Ravens (at Cincinnati) and Dolphins (at Buffalo) both win their Week 17 matchups.

Five teams are vying for the four remaining playoff spots in the AFC. If all five win Sunday, it'd mark the first time since 2008 a team with an 11-5 record is left out of the playoffs.

Here's the official breakdown from the NFL on Browns' clinching opportunities.

1) CLE win OR

2) IND loss OR

3) TEN loss + MIA win or tie + BAL win or tie OR

4) CLE tie + BAL loss OR

5) CLE tie + MIA loss OR

6) CLE tie + TEN loss OR

7) CLE tie + IND tie OR

8) CLE tie + TEN tie + BAL win + MIA win

AFC standings

1. z - Kansas City (14-1)

2. y - Pittsburgh (12-3)

3. y - Buffalo (11-3)

4. Tennessee (10-5)

5. Miami (10-5)

6. Baltimore (10-5)

7. CLEVELAND (10-5)

In the hunt

8. Indianapolis (10-5)

z - Clinched division and bye

y - Clinched division

Check out photos of the Browns against the Jets

Advertising