The Cleveland Browns defeated the Houston Texans 36-22 on Christmas Eve, benefited from the result of the other AFC North game played on Sunday, and are in the best position among teams in the race for finishing the season with the best record and a wild-card berth.
Boasting a 10-5 record with only two weeks remaining, the Browns have a 99 percent chance of making the playoffs according to the New York Times model. The Baltimore Ravens have already clinched the postseason.
Are these two franchises going to meet in the postseason? The truth is, that could very well be the case, as Baltimore would face one of the lower-seeded teams in the postseason, possibly hosting the Browns in the first game or after the bye if they earn it.
That would mean The Bank would be the place for Joe Flacco to play a football game for the first time since he last did it back in Nov. 2018 before giving way to Lamar Jackson to become the new quarterback and face of the Baltimore Ravens franchise at the end of his rookie year.
On Sunday, facing the Texans, Joe Flacco played a pivotal role in the Browns' victory by throwing for a stunning 368 yards (on 25 completions) and three touchdowns against two interceptions.
Flacco's recent form has been a mix of mediocre and solid, but at the end of the day, the veteran passer and former Ravens Super Bowl champ is carrying the Browns through a three-game winning streak and most probably into the playoffs.
The Browns' defense, particularly their pass defense, has been a standout aspect of their play, but had it not been for the addition of Flacco at the end of November it'd have been hella hard to envision Cleveland making it to the postseason in 2023 following a season filled with injuries.
Looking ahead, the Browns still have to play a TNF matchup this week against the lowly Jets in what looks like a lock for another win, and then they'll close the season at Cincinnati in a game that might already have Cleveland in the postseason and the Bengals playing for nothing.