The Cleveland Browns already know that it’s impossible for them to play in a postseason game this season, having been officially eliminated this past week even though they have continued to win. After starting out 2-5-1 under Hue Jackson, interim Head Coach Gregg Williams has led the team to a 5-2 record with losses only to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, two of the top teams in the conference.
They have won five of their past six games and three in a row, and they enter the regular season finale with a 7-7-1 record and the possibility of securing their first winning season since 2007. That is a motivation that should absolutely not be overlooked, considering the history of this franchise.
A winning record would be a huge deal for the Cleveland Browns. It would be a huge deal for Gregg Williams, who will probably be looking for a head coaching job in 2019, whether that ends up being with the Browns or somewhere else.
So it’s no surprise that he told reporters earlier this week that he intends to place his team’s collective testicles in the C Gap—metaphorically speaking, of course—saying that the Browns will be treating their final game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens as though it were their playoff game.
They can’t get into the playoffs by winning no matter how many other things might break their way, but they can prevent the Ravens from making it (provided that the Pittsburgh Steelers are at least able to tie the Cincinnati Bengals).
“We’ll treat this just like this is our playoff game”, Williams said. “That’s how intense the game is going to be”. The Browns have actually already beaten the Ravens this season, and that was even with Jackson still as their head coach.
Both teams are playing significantly better since they last faced each other, however, and this one will be in Baltimore. Both have won five of their past six games, with their only defeats coming to one of the top teams in the conference.
While the Steelers surely don’t factor into the Browns’ motivations at all, they would certainly greatly benefit from Cleveland taking this finale against the Ravens as seriously as possible, as there is nobody in the NFL that would benefit from it more. It’s virtually a requirement that the Browns win in order for Pittsburgh to get at least another game after Sunday.