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NFL playoff picture: What does Browns-Steelers mean for AFC standings

The Browns face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday, January 8. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of Heinz Field during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 2, 2022 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Sunday update: The Steelers beat the Browns and and will get out of the 2023 season with a winning record, but will finish third in the AFC North and will not be in the playoffs after the Dolphins beat the Jets to grab the last AFC wild card spot.


The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers meet on Sunday in Week 18 with kickoff set for 1 p.m. ET. The Browns are eliminated from playoff contention, but can still play spoiler against a Steelers squad that needs a win and help to clinch a playoff berth. Pittsburgh is a 2.5-point home favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Steelers playoff picture

Pittsburgh is currently 8-8 and tied with the Patriots and Dolphins in the AFC standings. The Patriots hold the final wild card berth and are followed by the Dolphins and Steelers. New England has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Pittsburgh and the division record tiebreaker over Miami. The Dolphins have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers.

The Steelers can clinch a playoff berth with a win, a Patriots loss to the Bills, and a Dolphins loss to the Jets. The Patriots are 8.5-point underdogs against the Bills and the Dolphins are 3.5-point favorites against the Jets.

Tiebreaker implications

The Steelers can’t claim tiebreakers against either the Patriots or Dolphins. They can only clinch the final AFC wild card berth with an outright lead on both teams.