While the Bengals will be eliminated from the Division Title race with any Steelers win, it’s time to turn our attention to what the Realistic Playoff Scenarios might be if we can make it as a wild card. Here is one of them…
Bengals: W vs. Houston, W @ St. Louis, W vs. Arizona, W vs. Baltimore (in this scenario, they have already clinched the division). 11-5
Likely seed – 6. Steelers would need only one win among the 49ers, Rams, or Browns to be uncatchable by the Bengals. With a tough game against San Fran next week, a loss plus the Ravens double win tiebreaker slots them as the top wildcard.
Would happen if: The Texans, who are starting 3rd string rookie QB TJ Yates the rest of the way, lose two other games in addition to this week (Titans, Panthers, or Colts) and Raiders only lose one (either the Packers or Lions) NFC game but beat the Chiefs and Chargers. The Raiders hold the head to head tiebreaker vs. the Texans and would only need the Broncos to lose to the Chiefs or two of their other remaining games (Bears, Pats, or Bills) to get the tiebreaker over them. The Titans are a non-factor as long as the Bengals win out thanks to our head to head victory, while the Jets are eliminated thanks to their worse conference record. Amazingly, the Broncos, Jets, and Titans could miss the playoffs with 10-6, 11-5, and 11-5 records respectively.
Likely playoff matchups:
Patriots ,Ravens byes.
Bengals @ Raiders – Awesome matchup against Palmer. How fun would that be?!? A rematch of the January 13, 1991 playoff loss where we ended Bo Jackson’s career but began the long decline through the 1990’s and 2000’s. 20 years between playoff wins is long enough.
Steelers @ Texans – Steelers should smother TJ Yates. After a long wait, the Texans would experience a one and done.
Imagine the AFC North having thee of the final four teams in the AFC. If this played out as envisioned, the Bengals would play the Pats in the second round and the Ravens vs. Steelers round 3 would be the other matchup.