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What is Required for the Browns to Make the Playoffs

Looking at the viability of the Cleveland Browns making the postseason through the lens of history and what it takes for a team with a backup quarterback starting the majority of the season.
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If the Cleveland Browns are going to make the playoffs this year, it's going to require Jacoby Brissett to have the best season of his career and the defense led by Myles Garrett to carry this team not unlike some of the Houston Texans teams of the 2010's. The fact the Browns don't play in the AFC South and the conference is loaded will require not only a Herculean effort by the Browns, but benefiting from a remarkable amount of fortune as well.

The Texans went to the playoffs in the 2010's four times before Deshaun Watson was drafted in 2017. Those teams were quarterbacked by journeymen including Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Ryan Mallett and former Browns Brock Osweiler and Brian Hoyer. Even Brandon Weeden played in two games during the 2015 season.

Many are tempted to look at the Browns roster, which is talented and believe this team should make the playoffs as a result. One of the reasons the Texans were able to make the postseason was their division was consistently awful. All four times the Texans went to the playoffs, they won the division. In 2015 and 2016, that required just a 9-7 record.

A division crown is a daunting feat bordering on impossible for the Browns to achieve as the Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a trip to the Super Bowl and the Baltimore Ravens who were cursed by injuries last year. The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the worst team on paper entering the year, but they haven't finished with a losing record in 15 years.

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Denzel Ward s Dedication will be Rewarded

The secondary is going to need to Grant Delpit to break out and for the group to stay healthy, something they've yet to achieve in the NFL. Denzel Ward misses about a month per season alone.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah looked the part of a star as a rookie and the Browns are going to need more from him in year two. They need someone else from the linebacker group to raise their game, so the Browns don't have an obvious vulnerability when they play nickel.

The defensive tackle position enters the season with significant pressure to perform. Jordan Elliott transformed his body this offseason and looks the part. Elliott, Taven Bryan and Tommy Togiai will need to play well enough that opponents aren't able to just hammer them until they eventually give way.

Even if everything goes right, the Browns might still fall short. They could have an incredible team that fights to the last breath and inspires a community in the process, but this is the path the organization chose. In acquiring Deshaun Watson, they knew a lost season was a real possibility. They deemed the risk worth it and it might be in the end. The Browns could win the Super Bowl from in the next five years.

In 2022, the Browns must defy history in order to find their way to the postseason. Should they find their way into the tournament, anything could happen.