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Browns Clinch Playoff Berth, Finish Ahead of Steelers for 1st Time Since 1989



Steelers Browns
Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco passes against the New York Jets during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, 37-20 to clinch a playoff berth for the Brown ensure that Cleveland will finish ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in 34 yards.

The Browns are now 11-5 and can finish no worse than 11-6. The Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are both 8-7 and can finish no better than 10-7. The Browns victory means that the Baltimore Ravens will need to beat the Miami Dolphins on Sunday to clinch the division title this week.

The Browns had never finished ahead of the Steelers in AFC North history since the division was established in 2002. The last time the Browns finished ahead of the Steelers was also the last time they secured a division title, back in 1989 in the old AFC Central division.

The Steelers could have gotten some playoff help with the Browns loss. If the Browns had lost to the Jets, and the Steelers won out, Pittsburgh would have had a 95% chance of making it to the postseason, according to the New York Times playoff predictor.

Instead, with a Cleveland victory, the Steelers will have a 91% chance of making it to the playoffs, and are still in need of some outside help.

The Steelers currently have a 12% chance of making it to the postseason, with the biggest hurdle being their own two games in front of them. The Steelers will face the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday and then the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18. Both games are on the road.


1 Baltimore Ravens 12-3
2 Miami Dolphins 11-4
3 Kansas City Chiefs 9-6
4 Jacksonville Jaguars 8-7
5 Cleveland Browns 11-5
6 Buffalo Bills 9-6
7 Indianapolis Colts 8-7
8 Houston Texans 8-7
9 Pittsburgh Steelers 8-7
10 Cincinnati Bengals 8-7
11 Las Vegas Raiders 7-8
12 Denver Broncos 7-8
13 New York Jets 6-10
14 Tennessee Titans 5-10
15 Los Angeles Chargers 5-10
16 New England Patriots 4-11


Overall AFC North AFC Head-to-head
Ravens 12-3 3-2 7-3 CIN 2-0, CLE 1-1, PIT 0-1
Browns 11-5 3-2 7-3 BAL 1-1, CIN 1-0, PIT 1-1
Steelers 8-7 4-1 6-5 BAL 1-0, CLE 1-1, CIN 2-0
Bengals 8-7 0-5 3-7 CLE 0-1, BAL 0-2, PIT 0-2