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 The Browns' playoffs hopes are alive in final stretch of the regular season


Every team has four games left in the regular season to either build on for next season or play hard for a playoff spot. The Browns are one of the teams playing for seeding in the AFC playoffs race. However, the Browns players have their eyes on not only making the playoffs but also winning the AFC North.

After last week's win over the Jaguars, the Browns' percentage of making the playoffs jumped to 78 percent, according to Pro Football Focus. Cleveland is now the fifth seed at 8-5 on the season. Yet, they face a roadblock as they can't move higher than the fifth spot unless they win their division.

At the top of the AFC North stands the Ravens at 9-3. Baltimore has been great this season on offense and defense. They lead the league in rushing yards with 2,042, and their defense leads the league in sacks with 49. Despite the Ravens having a good season on both sides, the Browns have a slight chance to win the AFC North.

"Obviously, winning the division is a goal you set at the beginning of the season, but we just have to handle business," FB/C Nick Harris said. "We have to take these next games one week at a time. We have to let everything sort itself out."

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Chicago Bears

The Browns have an easier last four games record-wise than the Ravens. Cleveland will play the Bears at home, travel to Houston, welcome the Jets and play the Bengals without QB Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. 

Neither team can afford to lose any game at this point, but for the Browns, it will be heartbreaking to lose to any of their next four opponents. Only the Bengals and the Texans have a winning record of 7-6 heading into Week 15. Meanwhile, the Bears and the Jets both have a record of 5-8 ahead of their Week 15 matchups.

The Ravens have a challenging schedule ahead of them. Heading into Week 15, they will play four teams over .500. They will face the high-powered Jaguars (8-5) offense in an away game. On Christmas day, they will have to travel to San Francisco (10-3) to play against the number one seed in the NFC. After their road trip, they will welcome the best passing offense in the NFL in the Dolphins (9-4) to their home stadium. Finally, they will finish off their season by playing against their division rivals in the Steelers (7-6). 

"Of course, our goal in the beginning was to win the division and conference, and those things are still there for the taking," DE Myles Garrett said. "But it all starts with this game coming up. I never want to get too far sided with goals. We don't have complete control of our destiny. They have to lose, and we have to keep winning. We have to focus on ourselves and start winning."

The only straightforward path for the Browns to win the AFC North at this time is to win out, and the Ravens lose three games.

If the Browns were to win the division, they would get a home playoff game. The last time the Browns had a home playoff game was in 1994 against the Patriots. Getting a home playoff game for the city of Cleveland would be great, but the Browns are leaving all options on the table in terms of making it in the playoffs. Their playoff hopes are in their hands and going 1-0 each week will guarantee them a spot.

"For the city, it will be huge," TE David Njoku said. "I was told my rookie year this is a football town. As each year progresses, I believe that more and more. The energy that the city gives us is second to none. It will be really big."