The Browns are in the thick of the playoff race and have a chance to clinch a playoff berth during Week 16. They will take on the Texans in Houston at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday.
There are eight potential ways that the Browns could clinch this weekend. However, while each scenario requires the Browns to beat the Texans, there are other results that have to occur throughout Week 16 that would allow Cleveland to clinch.
Here are the eight scenarios for how the Browns could clinch, according to NFL communications:
- CLE win + CIN loss + DEN loss or tie + BUF loss + MIA win or tie + IND loss or tie OR
- CLE win + PIT loss or tie + BUF loss + MIA win or tie + DEN loss or tie OR
- CLE win + PIT loss or tie + BUF loss + MIA win or tie + JAX loss + IND win OR
- CLE win + PIT loss or tie + DEN loss or tie + JAX loss + IND win OR
- CLE win + PIT loss or tie + BUF loss + KC win + IND win + JAX loss OR
- CLE win + PIT loss or tie + DEN loss or tie + MIA win or tie + IND loss OR
- CLE win + PIT loss or tie + DEN loss or tie + MIA win or tie + JAX loss OR
- CLE win + CIN-PIT tie + BUF loss + IND win + JAX loss
The first two games of Week 16 that could affect any of these scenarios are on Saturday, Dec. 23, when the Bengals play the Steelers, and the Bills play the Chargers.
In six of the above scenarios, the Steelers need to lose or tie the Bengals, and in one, they must tie on Saturday. However, if the Steelers beat the Bengals on Saturday, then that eliminates seven of the above scenarios for the week. The only one that would still be in play would require a Broncos loss or tie, a Bills loss, a Dolphins win or tie and a Colts loss or tie.
The second game on Dec. 23 between the Bills and Chargers will also play a factor. If Buffalo beats Los Angeles, then it removes five scenarios for the Browns to clinch this week. It would leave three available outcomes.
Sunday's slate of games up through Sunday Night Football could impact the Browns' ability to clinch. The Dolphins — who take on the Cowboys in the 4:25 p.m. EST slot on Sunday — would need to win or tie against the Cowboys to keep five of the above scenarios in play for the Browns.
If the Jaguars beat the Buccaneers, it eliminates five clinching scenarios for the Browns. Jacksonville will take on Tampa Bay at 4:25 p.m. EST. Then, the Broncos will take on the Patriots at 8:15 p.m. EST on Christmas Eve. In five scenarios, Denver must either lose or tie the Patriots to help the Browns.
There is only one scenario that would require a win from the Chiefs on Christmas Day for the Browns to clinch. This would also depend upon a Steelers loss or tie, a Bills loss, a Colts win and a Jaguars loss – two of which play on Dec. 23 and two on Dec. 24. The Chiefs face the Raiders at 1 p.m. EST on Dec. 25.
The Browns are 9-5 heading into their Week 16 matchup. They currently rank fifth in the AFC – second in the AFC North – and are in the hunt for the playoffs. With eight different possible scenarios for Week 16, the Browns could clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2020.