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The Cleveland Browns have playoff hopes. They are alive and well going into Week 17. Quickly, they could go from alive to basically dead depending on the result of one game.

We start with the team’s wild-card hopes: They are slim. The Browns would need a wild combination of factors to go their way over the final two weeks to be able to claim a wild card spot. If all of the Week 17 games go in the right way, we will cover in detail what would need to happen in Week 18.

Suffice to say, Cleveland could still make the playoffs even if their hopes of the AFC North are squashed on Sunday. It won’t be easy but it still could be possible.

What is very simple, for either their hopes of winning the AFC North or the wild card spot, is that the Browns must win both of their final two games to have any shot at the playoffs. From a chronological perspective, their game comes last in Week 17 but nothing matters if they don’t beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.

Before that game comes two vital games, both at 1 PM Sunday. The first is the Cincinnati Bengals versus the Kansas City Chiefs. This is the most important game for Cleveland. If the Bengals win, the AFC North crown will not come to northern Ohio in 2021 and that will leave the Browns praying for a wild card miracle.

The second game is also at 1 PM with the Baltimore Ravens facing the Los Angeles Rams. While this game is less important, the Ravens just have to lose one of their last two, a Baltimore loss would set up Cleveland nicely to control their destiny going into Week 18.

For the Browns it is very simple for Week 17:

Bengals loss + Ravens loss + Browns win = Cleveland control destiny for AFC North crown

Bengals loss + Ravens win + Browns win = Cleveland needs to win in Week 18 and have Baltimore lose to Pittsburgh to win AFC North

Bengals win = Cleveland out of AFC North picture and, depending on other Week 17 results, slim hope of wild card

Browns lose = Cleveland out of any playoff hopes in 2021