Bengals NFL Playoff Picture: Cincinnati quickly losing sight of postseason

Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After the Cincinnati Bengals’ Week 9 loss to the Cleveland Browns, their chances of making it to the playoffs dropped dramatically.

It didn’t help that the Pittsburgh Steelers powered to a victory over the Chicago Bears, or that the Baltimore Ravens thwarted the Minnesota Vikings in an overtime thriller.

The Bengals sit dead last in the AFC North, separated from first place by just one win, but that one win makes all difference.

Here’s what the current AFC playoff picture looks like after Week 9:

  1. Tennessee Titans (7-2)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
  3. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3)
  4. Buffalo Bills (5-3)
  5. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
  7. New England Patriots (5-4)

IN THE HUNT: 8. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4), 9. Cleveland Browns (5-4), 10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), 11. Denver Broncos (5-4)

Did anyone see Mac Jones’ Patriots ranking higher than Mahomes’ Chiefs halfway through the season? We doubt it.

This wasn’t the NFL season anyone was expecting, which could be both of a good and bad thing for the Bengals, who sit in 10th.

The good: of the AFC North, the Ravens and Steelers have currently earned a postseason berth, but if Cincinnati manages to catch up, the Bengals would get the head-to-head tie-breaker against both teams.

Cincinnati’s Week 9 loss caused them to drop five places, but they’ve got as much chance as any of the other six 5-win non-division champion teams to break away from the pack and nab a fifth seed or lower. Hell, they even have a chance to still win the division (the odds aren’t great, but they could).

Can the Cincinnati Bengals make a midseason playoff push after the BYE?

The bad is that of the playoff-bubble teams, the Bengals seem to be trending downward the most. They’ve just come off two straight losses to very beatable teams (Jets and Browns), and Cincinnati’s surefire offense at the beginning of the season isn’t so “sure” of itself anymore.

Joe Burrow’s inexperience may finally be catching up to him and Ja’Marr Chase’s preseason drops are coming back to haunt him.

Assuming the Bengals don’t have it in them to stage a magnificent comeback and overtake the AFC North, their main competitors for the two remaining playoff spots (we’re assuming the Chiefs will take one of the playoff seeds comfortably) could be the Raiders along with whoever is left in the AFC North.

Cincinnati will naturally have to worry about their own division the most, as the Browns appear to be #thriving after their break-up with OBJ, and the Steelers are enjoying a four-game winning streak which will likely be extended against the Lions on Sunday.

This week is the Bengals’ BYE, but there are plenty of exciting NFL matchups featured in Week 10’s upcoming slate of games. Las Vegas will take on Kansas City in a decisive division battle, and seventh-seeded New England will face ninth-seeded Cleveland.

With the most important stretch of the season ahead of them, the Bengals have fallen far from grace but could still turn it around quickly enough to steal a sixth or seventh seed.

In an ideal situation, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh will all lose in Week 10 and Cincinnati will leapfrog into first place the following week.

Next. 6 young players who give the Cincinnati Bengals hope. dark

Also ideal: Joe Burrow will throw five touchdowns every game and the Bengals’ D won’t allow a single point for the rest of the season.

One can dream.