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Scoreboard watching: The 5 teams Browns fans need to root for Sunday


The only AFC game between teams on the playoff bubble Sunday is happening in Cleveland, when the Browns host the Cincinnati Bengals in a game both teams desperately need to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Still, there'll be plenty of ramifications elsewhere in another weekend that could send a handful of teams off the bubble and into offseason mode.

On Tuesday, we laid out the entire AFC playoff picture. Today, we're ranking the five teams Browns fans need to cheer for most -- outside of the Browns, of course -- while they watch Sunday's game unfold at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Watch: - This Game Means Something

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (at Baltimore)

-- Yes, the Jaguars. We ranked them first not because they face the steepest odds of pulling off an upset, but because of what kind of damage it would do to the Ravens, who sit a game up on the Browns in the AFC North. The Ravens have one of the most favorable schedules among playoff-contending teams, and the 2-11 Jaguars being on it has a lot to do with that. A stunning loss at home would not only drop Baltimore to 9-6, but also further damage the Ravens' conference record, which is one of the first tiebreakers used if this logjam persists to the end.

2. Atlanta Falcons (vs. Pittsburgh)

-- A Falcons win would be equally as beneficial as one by the Jaguars, but this one comes with a lot more likelihood. Atlanta made Green Bay play a full 60 minutes Monday and would represent the NFC South if the playoffs started today despite its 5-8 record. The Steelers, who would be a Wild Card team if the playoffs started today, are the lone AFC North team to struggle against this division, going 1-2. It's the last time Pittsburgh will play away from Heinz Field during the regular season.

3. New England Patriots (vs. Miami)

-- If the Dolphins can get past the Patriots, their final two games are as manageable as it gets with home contests against the 6-7 Minnesota Vikings and 2-11 New York Jets. That's a big if, of course, because the Patriots are fighting for the No. 1 overall seed and playing at home for the first time since Nov. 23. A loss on the road could end Miami's hopes before it even gets to face the Vikings.

4. Indianapolis Colts (vs. Houston)

-- The Texans are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, but Sunday's trip to Lucas Oil Stadium could be a cold bucket of water on playoff hopes that were considered a longshot just a month ago. The Colts have never lost to Houston on their home field and they're just one win away from clinching a playoff berth. Knocking Houston out of the way would be big for the Browns because the Texans own the head-to-head tiebreaker on them.

5. Oakland Raiders (at Kansas City)

-- Another longshot, but the once 0-10 Raiders have suddenly won two of their last three with both wins coming against playoff-contending teams. Sandwiched in between? A 52-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams. The Chiefs, of course, handed the Raiders their first win and haven't been the same since losing in Oakland on Nov. 20. One more loss, especially to the Raiders, could be the knockout punch to a season that started out so promising in Kansas City.

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