Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) celebrates after the Cleveland Browns beat the Atlanta Falcons at FirstEnergy Stadium.

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Browns believe they’re still in the playoff hunt, confident big finish awaits

Team would have to pull off the longest win streak since 1968 to do it

November 20, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns returned from their bye week healthy, and optimistic.

Maybe a little delusional too.

The 'P' word was uttered multiple times following Monday's practice when players were asked about the stretch run that awaits them.

“We’ve been in a lot of games this season,” safety Damarious Randall said, referencing the 4 overtime games they’ve played. “We can finish the season strong and we can make a really big push at a playoff spot.”

The reality is that the Browns' playoff hopes are thinner than a piece of paper and history just isn’t on their side.

Yes, it is true that at 3-6-1 the Browns are still mathematically alive, a fact that ‘The Dan Patrick Show’ mentioned in a graphic during Monday’s show, which airs on DirectTV’s Audience network, but they must leapfrog 6 teams – 4-6 Denver plus Tennessee, Indianapolis, Miami, Cincinnati and Baltimore, who are all bunched up at 5-5, for the final wild card spot.

The good news is that they end the season in Baltimore and the Bengals are on the schedule twice. 

The 7-2-1 Steelers have all but put the AFC North out of reach and Pittsburgh would have to have a collapse of epic proportions down the stretch along with the 6 other teams for the Browns to have legitimate life.

They also must handle their own business which means to even have a conversation about playoff potential, the Browns must win out to finish 9-6-1. Their next loss will essentially eliminate them because 8-7-1 will likely not be enough to squeak in.

“That’s what I heard,” right guard Kevin Zeitler said. “Let’s take it one week at a time and you never know what could happen.”

So that's all they need to do – win 7 in a row and hope for help. Lots of help. 

Before everyone hops on the ‘anything is possible’ train, some perspective here regarding the history this Browns team would have to make.

The Browns haven’t won back-to-back games since winning 3 in a row in 2014.

They look to avoid tying the NFL record for most consecutive road losses this week against the Bengals with a 26th straight road defeat.

But they’re not flinching at the daunting task in front of them.

“If you don’t believe we can make a playoff run then you’re on the wrong team,” cornerback T.J. Carrie said. “I feel like from that standpoint we all have that feeling and that emotion [that we] can definitely do something very special.

“We’re capable of doing it. We have the tools, the athletes and the ability to do that.”

The Browns will play 4 of their final 6 on the road, but Randall doesn’t feel playing away from home is that big of a deal regardless of the inglorious ineptitude by the franchise over the last 4 years.

“I don’t think it’s tough,” Randall said. “I feel like the game is played the same other than the crowd is gonna boo every time you make a play and every time the ref throws a flag, they’re gonna think the flag is bull ****, but that’s what home fans are for.”

The longest win streak in the expansion era came in the Eric Mangini save my job-a-thon at the end of the 2009 season – 4 games.

The Browns last won 5 in a row in 1994. They also won 5 straight in 1980, 1976, 1971 and 1969.

In 1986 and 1972 they won 6 straight.

You have to go all the way back to 1968 as the last time the Browns rolled off the type of win streak they need to make the playoffs – it was an 8-gamer.

“We’re gonna finish the season pretty good,” Randall said. “I got a pretty good feeling.”

While their playoff hopes are all but extinguished, let’s not minimize the progress already made and that can still be made over the next 6 games.

They’ve ended the overall and divisional winless streaks and the Sunday losing streak that hung over them like a dark cloud as they entered the season. The road losing streak is at 25 and it’s been since their last win in Cincinnati – Nov. 6, 2014 – that they have strung together multiple victories in a row, and both of those streaks can be ended with a victory Sunday in Cincinnati.  

Being mathematically alive on Nov. 19 is a step in the right direction considering the Browns were eliminated by this time of year in the previous 3 seasons, but let’s not get crazy with the playoff race talk.

They need to win 2 in a row first before thinking ending the season with 7 straight is remotely possible, no matter how exciting it is to dream about.