Both teams are currently sitting at 11 wins this season, but the Lions have the chance to notch their 12th win this Sunday when they take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions clinched their first NFC North title in franchise history after beating the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas Eve, and they still have a chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
“We checked the box on one thing and now it’s to the next one and so at this point, now, we’re fighting for the two seed,” Campbell said. “If you’re able to get to the one, so be it. But right now, what we know we can achieve on our own is the two and that’s no easy task.”
The Browns are still in the running for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but they will need some help to beat out the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins. The Browns’ last game of the season is against a division rival in the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Lions only have six postseason appearances since 1994, and they are looking for their first win since 1991. The Browns are only making their third postseason appearance since 1994, but they got their most recent playoff win in 2020 with Baker Mayfield at QB.
Before winning in 2020, the last playoff win the Browns had was with Bill Belichick as the head coach in that 1994 season. They beat Belichick’s future dynasty-hosting team, the Bill Parcells-led New England Patriots.
The two teams are forever intertwined by being the only two 0-16 teams in NFL history. With the NFL moving to 17 games in a season, the Browns (2017) and the Lions (2018) will sit together in the record books with a unique win-loss record.
The Cleveland Browns had a much more difficult path to the playoffs than the Detroit Lions due to playing with four different quarterbacks
The Cleveland Browns made an improbable run into the postseason with veteran quarterback Joe Flacco at the helm. Flacco is the fourth quarterback to start multiple games for the Browns this year, which is a record-setting number of quarterbacks for a team that made the playoffs. The Browns also lost one of their best players, star running back Nick Chubb, early in the season.
The Browns were 5-1 with their original starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, yet it seemed as if they were winning in spite of Watson. Their defense, lead by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Myles Garrett, was cited as the main reason they were winning games early in the season. Garrett is the leader of a Browns defense that is considered one of the best in the league.
Myles Garrett sets the edge with violent hands, great leverage & knockback. @flash_garrett sheds inside & makes the tackle for no gain.
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) December 29, 2023
Cleveland is the league’s best when it comes to total defense as their 266.6 yards per game is the lowest in the NFL. Their defense and offense came together towards the end of the season with Flacco as the signal caller.
Flacco is 4-1 since being named the starter, and the offense is clicking with him better than it has all season. Flacco has 13 touchdowns this season, which is just one less than Watson has in the last two years. The ex-Baltimore QB has almost 500 yards more through the air than Watson, despite playing in one less game.
Flacco’s 323.2 yards per game is a significant improvement over Watson’s 185.8 yards per game. If Flacco and the defense can continue to play at this high of a level, the Browns have a real chance to make a deep-playoff run.
The Detroit Lions are built for sustained success, just like the Cleveland Browns
Head coach Dan Campbell built the Detroit Lions from the ground up. His first season as the coach saw the Lions finish last in the division with a 3-13-1 record.
The following season saw significant improvement, as the Lions finished with a winning record (9-8), and were only second in the NFC North behind the 13-4 Minnesota Vikings.
This season, the Lions clinched the NFC North, and have a chance for a first week bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Campbell built the team from the inside out, and their strong play in the trenches is what makes them hard to stop.
Young tackle Penei Sewell has proven to be one of the best tackles in the game. Their defensive line, led by defensive tackle Alim McNeill and pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, makes them a force to be reckon with in the trenches.
Seriously… Penei Sewell is 22 years of age. His leadership and energy is insane.
Pure gold. 🤘🏼💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/TybCJIupTV
— Zach Harig (@zach_harig) October 5, 2023
Alim McNiell kicks a** pic.twitter.com/fNbrODU4ry
— Theo Ash (@TheoAshNFL) April 13, 2023
With a strong core in the trenches, the addition of playmakers like running back Jahmyr Gibbs and wide receiver Amon Ra St. Brown propelled them into being one of the best teams in the conference. Gibbs, a rookie who did not see a lot of action early in the season, is just 128 yards from eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season.
St. Brown, who is in the midst of his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season, is shaping up to be one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league. St. Brown has over 100 receptions for the second year in a row, and has improved in every notable statistical receiving category in his third year.
The Lions and the Browns once sat atop the NFL in the 1950s as they played each other in the NFL championship game four times. They are both looking to codify the return to their past glory for years to come.