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NFL playoff picture: What does Bucs-Browns mean for NFC, AFC standings

The Bucs face the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday of Week 12. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of FirstEnergy Stadium prior to the National Football League game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns on September 18, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UPDATE: The Bucs lost 23-17 to the Browns. Tampa drops to 5-6 but remains in first place in the NFC South after the Falcons lost to the Commanders. The Browns improve to 4-7 and are three games back in the AFC wild card race.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns are facing off in Cleveland and it’s a big game for both teams. The game kicked off at 1 p.m. ET at FirstEnergy Stadium and here’s a look at what the matchup means for the playoff race in both the NFC and AFC.

Bucs playoff picture

The Bucs enter Sunday’s game with a 5-5 record, which is enough to lead the abysmal NFC South division. They have a half game lead on the 5-6 Falcons who are playing the Commanders at the same time. They have a game and a half lead on the Saints who are playing the 49ers at 4:25 p.m. ET. The Bucs are currently a game back of the 49ers for third place in the overall NFC standings.

If the Bucs win, they could climb into third place with 49ers and Seahawks losses. If Tampa loses, their position in the NFC South will come down to what the Falcons do against the Commanders. Tampa comes into the weekend 3.5 games back of the Vikings and four back of the Eagles.

Browns playoff picture

The Browns are struggling along at 3-7 heading into Week 12, but they’re not your normal 3-7 team. They will get Deshaun Watson back in the coming week from his suspension. Jacoby Brissett has done some good things in his place the first three months of the season, but he’ll head back to the bench.

The Browns are four back of the Ravens in the AFC North and three back of the Bengals. This week, the Ravens are playing the Jaguars in Jacksonville and the Bengals are playing the Titans in Nashville. Cleveland is in 13th place overall in the AFC, tied with the Raiders and Jaguars. They all sit three games back of the seventh place Jets for the final wild card berth.

If the Browns win, they could climb as high as tenth in the overall standings, but would remain in third place in the AFC North. If the Browns lose, they could drop into last place in the division and as far as 15th in the conference.