After dropping a disappointing game to the Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals are now 5-4 and fans are bummed. This team can still make the playoffs though!
I know it seems like the Bungles are back after dropping two games in a row, especially coming off that statement win in Baltimore. One of the losses came against a practice squad quarterback and a woeful Jets team. Maybe Mike White will be a starter next year somewhere.
In spite of the loss to the Jets and the blowout loss to the Ohio rival Browns, I am here to tell you why the sky isn’t falling. The Bengals can still make the playoffs! Who would’ve thought we’d be having this discussion at the beginning of the season?
Let’s dive in.
17-game season and 7 open playoff spots
Last season the NFL expanded the playoffs to include a third wildcard team, making a total of seven teams per conference, so we’ve only had one year to see how that can affect the postseason. Looking at last year, the 7-seed in the AFC were the Colts at 11-5.
Given that there are 12 teams in the AFC that have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs, the Colts are the aforementioned 12th team in the AFC at 4-5. The 7th-seed will not need to be a double-digit win team to make the playoffs this season.
Much like the NFC last year, the Bengals could sneak in as a 7-seed at 9-8 or maybe even 8-9. The Bears were 8-8 last year and made it with Mitchell Trubisky as their quarterback, so anything is possible. This brings me to my second point.
We have no idea what this 17th game will mean at the end of the season. That extra game is against a non-conference opponent, so this game specifically may not come into play for tie-breaking scenarios.
There could be a common opponent’s tiebreaker against the AFC South. Even then according to NFL.com that is the best record between at least four common opponents and that is the third possible tiebreaker. More likely is a head-to-head, or the better win percentage in conference games.
The bottom line is we do not know what a 17-game season will mean when Week 18 comes around. This extra game could come to help the Bengals in the long run.
Yes, the Bengals dropped two in conference games, but the Bengals also still have eight games left to play in a very tight AFC playoff race. Plus, they have the BYE week to get things right.