Over the years, the Cleveland Browns have revealed some harsh realities about life in the NFL.

Namely:

It is difficult to win—only five winning seasons since 1989.
It is difficult to make the playoffs—only three playoff seasons since 1989.
It is very difficult to win more than one playoff game—the last time the Browns accomplished that was in 1950.
It is extremely difficult to win on the road in the playoffs—only one road playoff win since 1969.
The Browns have completed the first two items on the list, securing a winning record in Week 15 with a victory over the Chicago Bears and clinching a playoff spot on Thursday night with a win over the New York Jets.

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While the AFC North Division title remains in play pending the outcome of Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, as well as an outside chance of claiming the AFC’s top seed, the Browns are more likely to enter the playoffs as the conference’s top wild card team and subsequent No. 5 seed.

That means the Browns will have a chance to check off the last two items, as whatever playoff run they embark on will most likely begin on the road, against whoever emerges as the AFC South Division winner from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts.

Barring any major upsets during Wild Card weekend, the Browns would be on the road for the Divisional Round, looking for that elusive second playoff win and another road playoff victory.

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Barring any major upsets during Wild Card weekend, the Browns would travel to the Divisional Round in search of their second playoff win and another road playoff victory.

After defeating the Browns on the road in the 1969 playoffs, the Browns went 0-7 in road playoff games until that special night in 2020, when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to end the streak.

Outside of three years ago, the cplayoff history has little to no bearing on this year’s team, which has overcome more key injuries than appears possible and is one win away from becoming only the second Browns team to win 12 games in a season since 1950.

Depending on how the Ravens perform on Sunday, the Browns could be facing a 16- to 17-day stretch before they have to play a game that matters. As a result, they may enter the playoffs as healthy as a team can be at this point in the season.

Given their resilience this season, the Browns will be a tough out in the playoffs. And if they can enter the playoffs with a mostly healthy roster (and the offense stops turning the ball over so frequently), the Browns will pose a significant challenge to whoever they face.

The Browns have demonstrated that they have learned from all of their hard lessons, and when the playoffs begin in two weeks, they will have the opportunity to bury some of the ghosts of previous playoff failures.

 

 

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