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NFL Playoff Picture: Browns Will Focus On 2012 While AFC North Battles For Playoffs

The AFC Playoff Picture is muddy, to say the least, but right now the AFC North would send three teams to the NFL Playoffs.

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The Cleveland Browns are headed for another losing season.  Another season without the playoffs.  Making matter worse, the rest of the AFC North is right in the thick of the AFC Playoff Picture with four weeks remaining.  The Browns' mission, if they choose to accept it, is to throw a wrinkle into the Steelers and Ravens post-season plans, however they can.  Their 24-10 loss to Baltimore on Sunday did nothing to make us believe they can do that, but with three games remaining against division opponents, the Browns do have an opportunity to make things difficult.

After Sunday's action, here is what we know about the AFC:

The New England Patriots are in a familiar spot as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.  Currently tied with the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens, the Pats get the nod over Houston with Strength of Victory and over the Ravens based on AFC record.  

The Ravens are the No. 2 seed right now which would get them the all-important BYE week in the first round of the playoffs.  Baltimore gets the nod over Houston due to their record against like opponents.

Houston would currently by the No. 3 seed in the AFC.  Behind the strength of their top-ranked defense, the Texans continue to win despite being down to their 3rd string quarterback T.J. Yates.

Now things get interesting.  the Denver Broncos are now in the No. 4 spot, having taken over the lead in the AFC West.  The Broncos have won 5 straight games and Tim Tebow has fans in Denver believing they can not only make the playoffs, but make some noise when they get there.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 9-3 along with the Patriots, Ravens and Texans, are all the way down in the No. 5 slot.  Pittsburgh has their two losses to Baltimore to thank for that, and unless the Ravens stumble have little hope of moving up.

Even with their 35-7 loss to the Steelers yesterday, the Cincinnati Bengals are in the No. 6 spot.  That's right, if the playoffs started right now, the Ravens, Steelers and Begals would all be in the playoffs.  Salt in the wound, to be sure, for Browns fans if Cleveland is the only team from the AFC North to NOT make the playoffs.

There is a long way to go, and the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans are still in the hunt with four weeks to go.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.