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Not over

November 24, 2013 - Mike McLain
CLEVELAND -- The loser of today's Browns-Steelers game won't be eliminated from the playoff picture.

Although winning the AFC North Division would be far-fetched, the wild card spots would be very much in play. Parity has tightened the pack in the AFC. The Browns, Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are each 4-6. The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are both 5-5, and the Tennessee Titans are 4-6.

Barring something unforeseen, the second-place finisher in the AFC West Division -- either the Denver Broncos or Kansas City Chiefs -- will be one of the two wild cards. Both enter action today with 9-1 records.

While the loser of today's Browns-Steelers game will still be very much alive in the wild card chase, they will take a hit in the psychological game. It would be difficult to believe that the playoffs are a realistic goal with a 4-7 record. For the Browns that also would mean losses in five of the last six games.

The Browns could always cling to memories of the 1985 Browns, who advanced to the playoffs with an 8-8 record in 1985. That record was good enough to win the division title.

In the strike-shortened season of 1982 the Browns advanced to the playoffs with a 4-5 record. They were promptly beaten by the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs.


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