It comes down to how the Cleveland Browns do against Chicago and Pittsburgh.
That’s what I came up with based on some calculations with the ESPN Playoff Machine. It’s a rather intriguing gizmo that allows one to see projected playoff spots based on certain results — and it’s available here.
Go week by week and pick the team’s results, or pick based on certain judgments (home team wins) and the playoff results flash on the screen.
Did we say this is an intriguing gizmo?
It’s actually a very intriguing gizmo. There's all sorts of permutations, which are fun to try.
For the Browns, let’s start with two assumptions -- which are probably generous: They win their final two games, on the road, at the Jets and Pittsburgh. Eliminate a win from this equation and everything falls apart.
By the Playoff Machine’s calculations, that means the Browns still have to beat Pittsburgh and Chicago at home to reach the sixth spots in the playoffs.
Lose to either one, or lose to either the Jets or Steelers and it’s no playoffs.
Basically, the machine says the Browns need to go 5-1 to make the playoffs.
Which confirms the gizmo knows what it’s talking about.