Dec 6, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones (82) celebrates a touchdown during the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 37-3. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals benefitted from a New England Patriots loss and are now the AFC’s top team.
The Cincinnati Bengals are now the AFC’s highest-ranked team. Due to tiebreakers over the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, Cincinnati would be the AFC’s one seed if the playoffs started today.
But the playoffs don’t start until January, so does this mean anything?
Cincinnati still has a daunting schedule, featuring matchups vs. the Steelers and the Ravens and at the 49ers and Broncos.
New England doesn’t have it much easier, facing matchups vs. the Titans and at the Texans, Jets and Dolphins.
Denver will play home games vs. the Raiders, Bengals and Chargers and at the Steelers.
Odds are, each of these three teams could lose one or more of their upcoming matchups. And while Cincinnati is in first place today, the Bengals could potentially fall to second place if both Cincinnati and New England won out.
But the Patriots wouldn’t be safe by winning out, either.
New England currently holds the strength of schedule advantage over Cincinnati, which would be the tiebreaker between these two teams (since both teams have the same amount of division, conference and non-conference losses).
But New England also isn’t safe if it wins out.
If opponents that Cincinnati has played, specifically AFC North, AFC West and NFC West teams win enough games, the Bengals could potentially hold the strength of schedule tiebreaker over New England if both teams were to win out.
Right now, speculation doesn’t do much. There are still four more weeks in the NFL season, and how the Bengals finish the season will likely determine their playoff seeding. If Cincinnati beats Denver, they will likely earn a first-round playoff bye.
On Sunday Night Kickoff before the Colts vs. Steelers game, Tony Dungy called the Bengals the most dangerous team in the AFC. A couple of weeks ago, Boomer Esiason also made a similar statement. The Bengals are exciting, and watching the rest of this season play out will be a treat.
For those of you interested in playoff-clinching, division-clinching, bye-clinching and top seed-clinching, scenarios, don’t worry. Those will be coming soon.