Cleveland Browns’ Surprise Playoff Run Faces Toughest Test

With a chance to end their 17-year playoff drought against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, the Cleveland Browns have closed their practice facility for the second consecutive day after two more players tested positive for Covid-19, according to ESPN.

The biggest Cleveland football game in a generation will be the second in a row where the virus has loomed large. The Browns find themselves in a win-and-in scenario -- unless the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars can snap their 14-game losing streak against the Indianapolis Colts -- after losing last weekend’s match-up against the then one-win New York Jets. In that game, the Browns top four wide receivers were ineligible to play because of Covid-19 protocols.

And while long-suffering denizens of the Dawg Pound will say the unfortunate turn of events brought on by the virus is a fitting climax for a city where bad luck and sports go hand-in-hand, here’s a contrarian fact: the Browns have already been incredibly lucky this season by one advanced metric.

Cleveland Browns’ Surprise Playoff Run Faces Toughest Test

According to Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, a statistic created by Football Outsiders that measures the success of each play in a game, the Browns are just the 21st best team in the league despite having racked up 10 wins.

The Browns -7.5% DVOA would be the worst full-season total for a team with double digit wins since the 2012 Colts posted a -16.5% figure. And the gap between the Browns and the Jets, the worst team in the league by DVOA, is a full 4 percentage points lower than the distance between them and the Steelers, who rank seventh in the league by the measure.

Cleveland Browns’ Surprise Playoff Run Faces Toughest Test

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