Bengals: 5 Must-Win Games After the Bye

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Dec 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after the game at Paul Brown Stadium. Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 42-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sportsbe

The Cincinnati Bengals have gotten off to one of the two best starts in the history of this storied franchise, but there is still a lot of work yet to be done. The Bengals aren’t just looking to win a playoff game; they’re looking to win a Super Bowl. And the easiest way to give yourself a chance to win the Super Bowl is to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals are legitimate AFC contenders, and they’re fully capable of earning a first-round bye, given the trajectory they’re on. Cincinnati has only played one of its six divisional games to this point, but it also has three games left against NFC teams that won’t have as much of an impact on playoff seeding as divisional games. If the Bengals can win just four of their next 10 games, they’ll be a 10-win team. But Cincinnati is capable of being a 13-win team, so every win counts.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns have all underperformed to this point of the season, so the Cincinnati Bengals are in the driver’s seat in the AFC North. They could easily win the division if they can manage to win half of their remaining games, provided that the Steelers win six of their next nine games or less, which isn’t an unreasonable expectation. But winning the division isn’t what matters–nor is winning a single playoff game. Winning a Super Bowl is all that matters, and earning a first-round bye could be the first step in that direction for Cincinnati.

Here are five must-win games for the Bengals, coming off an awesome 6-0 start and a Week 7 bye.

Next: 1. Week 8: at Pittsburgh Steelers

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