Bengals vs. 49ers: Big Questions, Bold Predictions

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Dec 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones (82) avoids a tackle by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Steelers won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Game Prediction

QUESTION: How will Sunday turn out for the Bengals?
Sunday will be critical in many ways for the Bengals. Not only will Cincinnati be trying to win its 11th game of the year, but it will also be attempting to claim a playoff spot. Those two events go hand-in-hand. If the Bengals win, they will guarantee themselves at least an appearance in the postseason. Cincinnati will be keeping a close eye on the Broncos-Steelers game. The outcome of that game will have implications for the Bengals, regardless of the winner. If Cincinnati defeats the 49ers and Pittsburgh loses to Denver, then the Bengals will clinch not only a playoff berth, but the AFC North title. A Bengals win and a Denver loss would give Cincinnati a one-game lead for the second seed in the AFC. All favorable scenarios are contingent on a Bengals victory.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati will beat the 49ers and clinch the AFC North crown.
Cincinnati will have an eventful day on Sunday. The Bengals will take care of business against the 49ers with relative ease. The final score of the contest will be 31-16. Jeremy Hill will dictate the pace of the game, A.J. McCarron will be consistent and Mohamed Sanu will add a little razzle-dazzle on a few trick plays. In addition to Cincinnati’s win, the Steelers will fall to the Broncos 24-23 on a last-second field goal. The Steelers loss will crown the Bengals as the AFC North Champions.

An abundance of factors will play into the end result on Sunday. The outcome of the Broncos at Steelers game is a win-win for Cincinnati if they beat the 49ers. A Bengals loss on the other hand, would have devastating ramifications, no matter who wins the other game. The Bengals must focus on the task at hand before thinking about the factors that are out of their control. The best way the Bengals can think about the whole situation is that positive outcomes will occur if they win, whereas negative ramifications will only happen if they lose.