September 3, 2014

Playoff Update: Good News, Bad News

The teams directly behind Cincinnati won yesterday, giving the Bengals no more breathing room in the AFC Playoff race. The Jets, who have a fairly easy schedule ahead, and the Broncos, who hold the tiebreaker over Cincinnati, scare me the most. The only good news arrived in the Houston/Jacksonville game. The Texans, who won yesterday and face Cincinnati in two weeks, will likely be starting T.J. Yates at quarterback after losing Matt Leinart to a collarbone injury.

Thus, one game gets a little easier, but Cincinnati has little room for error if the Bengals hope to make the playoffs. And the team still has tough divisional games remaining against Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

At 7-4, Cincinnati may be able to survive one loss, but a second could eliminate them from the playoffs. It all figures to make things rather tense in the week’s ahead. Here’s a look at what the AFC contenders for the final playoff spot have left on their schedules.

Cincinnati (7-4): at Pittsburgh, Houston, at St. Louis, Arizona, Baltimore. Predicted Finish: 10-6

Thoughts: Unfortunately, I see two more losses somewhere on this schedule. The first could come next week. After that, Cincy could win them all, but I think the Bengals’ youth may trip them up somewhere else, perhaps against Baltimore. I hope that I’m wrong. And I also hope that I’m fueling Cincinnati’s underdog motivations, but I’ve been bruised and battered by too many near misses with the playoffs before to predict certain success.

New York Jets (6-5):  at Washington, Kansas City, at Philly,  New York Giants, at Miami. Predicted Finish:  10-6

Thoughts: Luckily, this schedule is more difficult than I remembered it. With Sanchez under center, there should be another loss here somewhere, maybe two.

Denver (6-5): at Minnesota, Chicago, New England, at Buffalo, Kansas City. Predicted Finish:  9-7

Thoughts:  I think Tebowmania won’t be quite enough to carry the Broncos into the playoffs, but you have to admit, the kid’s record should speak for itself. If it weren’t for the New England game on the schedule, Denver might be favored in all the remaining contests. The Broncos pose a real problem with Cincinnati because if the two teams tie, Denver goes to the playoffs via the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Tennessee (6-5):  at Buffalo, New Orleans, at Indy, Jacksonville, at Houston. Predicted Finish:  10-6

With Houston’s quarterback position in turmoil, New Orleans is the only game that figures to be a certain loss for the Titans. Thus, Tennessee poses a playoff threat for the Bengals. Fortunately, Cincinnati has the tiebreaker if it comes down to only those two teams.

So there you have it. I see the AFC playoff chase ending with a three-way tie for the final spot. In case you forgot, here are the league’s playoff tiebreakers. The Bengals currently have an edge by having the best conference record, a key tiebreaker, among the Titans and Jets. But everything is subject to change – and those factors could shift as soon as next weekend, if Cincinnati were to lose to Pittsburgh.

A win there for the Bengals and you’d have to think Cincinnati will somehow make it in.

Let’s make it happen.

Who Dey.

 

 

Comments

  1. With all this in mind is there a chance the Bengals vs Steelers game will get bumped up to the Sunday Night game?

  2. Seubs says:

    I think they already announced that the Lions and Saints game would be flexed to Sunday night instead. I don’t think CBS was willing to part with the game.

  3. Nate says:

    Seubs is correct. Bengals/Steelers is staying at one. Cincinnati’s final home game with Baltimore could get flexed I suppose. It’s also worth noting that Troy Polamalu suffered what seemed to be a concussion last night. Maybe Cincy will get lucky and he’ll miss Sunday’s game.

  4. Bill says:

    A loss this week agaisnt Pittsburgh doesn’t hurt the Bengals’ playoff hopes, but a win helps them immensely.

    Vegas is giving 7.5 pts to the Steelers this week. That makes sense if you know nothing about the game other than that the Steelers won in Cincy by 7. With the Bengals having A.J. Green for the full game and hopefully having Dunlap back, plus if Polamalu has to sit after having his bell rung yet again last night, this game is not a lock for either team. And the Bengals always play the Steelers better at their place. (I so wish I could understand why that is.)

    BRONCOS: I’m not buying into Denver, but since they own the tie-breaker, I will feel better once they are a game further back. JETS: The Jets just don’t have the mojo this year. I think they will lose to the Giants and one that they shouldn’t (Eagles or Redskins) to eliminate themselves at 9-7. TITANS: Boy am I glad the Bengals have the tie-breaker. Jacksonville’s D could trip them up, but 10-6 looks very realistic for them.

  5. Eric says:

    Win out and they’re in. That should be the mantra in the locker room. I don’t think they lose both to Pitt and Baltimore–they are bound to exact revenge on one, if not both of them. The Houston game should be easier, though we need to get better at stopping the run again. Arizona and St. Louis have to be victories no matter what scenario you look at.

    Again, just win out…what’s wrong with that? :)