The chances of the Browns making the playoffs aren't great, but that's not the point. It's Week 15 of the regular season and the Browns are still in the playoff picture.
Yes, the same Browns who started 0-5. The same Browns who didn't win their first road game until Dec. 2. The same Browns who changed ownership midseason and parted ways with team president Mike Holmgren a couple of weeks ago.
Despite the bad start and uncertainty with the team's decision makers, Cleveland is the hottest team in the AFC North, winning its past three games. The Browns (5-8) are two games behind the Steelers (7-6) and Bengals (7-6) for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC North.
"We're in a tough spot, but we still have a chance," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "Crazy things have happened and guys are still hungry."
How can the Browns get into the playoffs? They have to win their last three games (home against Washington and then at Denver and Pittsburgh) to even have a shot at the postseason. Another loss would eliminate the Browns. Cleveland can't get into the playoffs with seven wins because the Steelers and Bengals play each other, which means one team will get to eight wins (barring a tie, of course).
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said he's not going to focus on his team being in the playoff conversation right now.
"Our energy, our efforts are all going to be directed towards the Redskins," he said. "I think that’s where we need to be. It’s a little bit easier to be short-sided and narrow minded with three games to play. I think we have to make sure we stay in the moment and stay there. We all know chances and the math changes in those situations if you don’t take care of business this weekend."
This is more than just scenarios for the Browns. Cleveland has one of the youngest teams in the league, a late-season push like this can carry momentum into next season.
The big question is whether Shurmur will be back next season. Each week, it seems like there is a report linking another coach to Shurmur's job.
“Listen, I’m not worried about any of that. I don’t control that," he said. "I’m worried about doing my job and that’s it. I just want to do my job.”