NFL playoff picture: Cleveland Browns playoff odds get even better with win vs. Texans

The last time the Browns made the playoffs was 2020. It was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Baker Mayfield was the team's starting quarterback. Just 16 players on that team are still on the Browns, and many of them — like running back Nick Chubb and offensive tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. — are out injured.

Now, in 2023, the Browns are on the verge of returning to the postseason after beating the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Here's a look at how things stand for the Browns in the AFC playoff picture. This will be updated through Monday's games.

1. Baltimore Ravens (12-3)

AFC North leaders

The Ravens demolished the 49ers on Monday night and clearly look like the best team in the NFL. Baltimore's defense intercepted MVP candidate Brock Purdy four times and even had one off backup Sam Darnold for good measure. Baltimore has won five consecutive games, and have another massive one coming up.

Remaining schedule: vs. Ravens, vs. Steelers

2. Miami Dolphins (11-4)

AFC East leaders

It took a last-second field goal, but the Dolphins took down the Cowboys on Sunday in an impressive win. With their remaining schedule, the Dolphins needed it too. Not only did the win clinch a playoff spot for the Dolphins, they remain in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Remaining schedule: at Ravens, vs. Bills

3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)

AFC West leaders

The issue Kansas City has faced on offense won't go away, and that was evident in Monday's 20-14 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chiefs have now lost three of their last four games, which isn't ideal in the final weeks of the NFL regular season.

Remaining schedule: vs. Bengals, at Chargers

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-7)

AFC South leaders

After quarterback Trevor Lawrence was lost to a shoulder injury, the Jaguars had little chance against the Buccaneers on Sunday. Jacksonville lost 30-12 in Tampa Bay, but stay in first place in the AFC South due to head-to-head results against the Colts and Texans.

Remaining schedule: vs. Panthers, at Titans

5. Cleveland Browns (10-5)

Wild card No. 1

The Browns further strengthened their hold on a playoff spot by easily dismantling the Houston Texans and backup quarterback Case Keenum on Sunday. The Browns will face backup quarterbacks in their two remaining regular season games. Is a 12-win season possible? It would be the first for Cleveland since 1986.

Remaining schedule: vs. Jets, at Bengals

6. Buffalo Bills (9-6)

Wild card No. 2

Buffalo continues to win to close out the regular season. Buffalo beat the fading Los Angeles Chargers 24-22 on Saturday as quarterback Josh Allen continues to make a case for NFL MVP honors. A regular-season finale against the Dolphins could have massive consequences.

Remaining schedule: vs. Patriots, at Dolphins

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-7)

Wild card No. 3

The Colts on Sunday had a chance give themselves some separation in the playoff hunt. But they lost to the Atlanta Falcons on the road and now face a much tougher test to make the postseason. Yes, they still hold the final AFC wild card spot, but they'll need to win and need help the rest of the season.

Remaining schedule: vs. Raiders, vs. Texans

8. Houston Texans (8-7)

Not in the playoff field

With backup quarterback Case Keenum against the ferocious Browns defense, Houston was blown out 36-22 at home Sunday. A Week 18 road game against the Colts will be must-see television.

Remaining schedule: vs. Titans, at Colts

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7)

Not in the playoff field

On Saturday, the Steelers snapped a three-game losing streak, beating the Bengals 34-11 in Pittsburgh. The win helped coach Mike Tomlin get close to another winning season. But they’ll need a lot of help to make the playoffs.

Remaining schedule: at Seahawks, at Ravens

10. Cincinnati Bengals (8-7)

Not in the playoff field

Winning three straight games coming into Week 16, the Bengals had momentum. And they squandered it in Pittsburgh with a crushing loss. According to Steve Kornacki of NBC, the Bengals’ playoff chances dropped to just 14 percent with the loss (Kornacki had the Steelers at 13 percent). Cincinnati is 0-5 in AFC North games this season.

Remaining schedule: at Chiefs, vs. Browns

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Updated NFL playoff picture after Browns, Dolphins win and Chiefs lose