Christmas is less than a week away and the Cleveland Browns are on the right path to make the playoffs. A 9-5 record has them occupying the AFC's No. 5 playoff spot ahead of a Week 16 meeting with the Houston Texans, leaving time to tell if Browns fans will have even more to celebrate on Christmas Eve.
Speaking of the holidays, you can bet that Santa Claus has been keeping a keen eye on the Browns this season. While several players deserve gifts for keeping the team's postseason dreams alive, others should wake up to some coal for holding Cleveland back from its true potential.
Here's a look at three Browns who are on Santa's Nice List this year, as well as two who have landed on the Naughty List.
Nice List #1: Joe Flacco
There's no denying that Joe Flacco has breathed new life into the Browns' offense.
Before the 38-year-old quarterback made his season debut in Week 13, Cleveland was only averaging 181.2 passing yards per game — sixth-fewest in the NFL. But since Flacco secured the starting QB job, the Browns are averaging 298.3 passing yards, which is the third-most during that stretch.
Flacco has finished with 254-plus passing yards in each start, which includes tallying at least 311 in the last two. While his five interceptions indicate that he hasn't been perfect, his seven TD passes are just two fewer than Deshaun Watson, P.J. Walker, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson combined for in 11 starts.
If the Browns were still forced to start Walker and DTR, there's a decent chance they might be out of the playoff race. Fortunately, Flacco's presence has helped avoid that due to his solid play on the field and the leadership he's shown in the locker room.
Assuming he ends the season on a high note, Flacco is well-deserving of his spot in Browns lore, as well as on the Nice List.