The AFC North is wide open for the Bengals to take control of with eight games to go. After a bye weekend in which the Ravens and Browns both lost and the Steelers tied, Cincinnati now ranks No. 3 in the division.
If the playoffs started this weekend, the Bengals would the No. 8 seed and would not make the cut.
The current AFC playoff picture
2. Buffalo Bills, 6-3
4. Kansas City Chiefs, 6-4
6. New England Patriots, 6-4
7. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-4 (Third wild card)
The Bengals sit behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the AFC North despite beating both teams due to overall record. Both the Ravens and Steelers have three losses, Cincinnati has four. The Bengals play the Ravens and Steelers at home and travel to Cleveland in the final week of the regular season.
Right behind the Bengals in the Wild Card race are the Raiders who are coming off two consecutive losses to the Chiefs and the Giants. Las Vegas and Cincinnati meet this weekend and if the Bengals and it’s a huge game in terms of potential playoff seeding.
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The easiest way for the Bengals to make the playoffs is to win the rest of their division games and control the AFC North. If they aren’t able to do that, they’ll need to beat both the Chargers and Raiders in order to get one of the three Wild Card spots.
Five of Cincinnati’s final eight games are at Paul Brown Stadium and the Bengals, to this point, haven’t suffered a major injury to a key starter. If they can go on the road and break their two-game losing skid, they are set up to make a run with three home games in a row to follow.
It all starts this weekend though with the Las Vegas Raiders in what is one of the premiere games of the week.