The BYE week treated the Cincinnati Bengals very, very well.
After Week 10, all three AFC North teams fell (or in the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, tied) and in doing so failed to gain significant ground in the division race.
The Baltimore Ravens remain in first, but only one win separates them from the pack.
Last week’s results caused the Bengals to jump a few spots ahead to sit right outside of the playoff seedings.
Here’s what the current AFC playoff picture looks like after Week 10:
- Tennessee Titans (8-2)
- Buffalo Bills (6-3)
- Baltimore Ravens (6-3)
- Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3-1)
- New England Patriots (6-4)
- Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
IN THE HUNT: 8. Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), 9. Las Vegas Raiders (5-4), 10. Indianapolis Colts (5-5), 11. Cleveland Browns (5-5), 12. Denver Broncos (5-5)
Cincinnati Bengals come back from BYE with an advantage from Week 10’s results
Could the pieces be falling in place for the Bengals to make a surprise playoff appearance?
Three weeks ago, many were convinced that Cincinnati had a legitimate playoff-contending team. Now, after a two-game losing streak and a restful BYE, the Bengals have the most to prove in Week 11 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Not only will Week 11’s matchup be a critical test of the Bengals’ consistency so far (if they win, good, if they lose, sound the alarm), but the Bengals and Raiders are currently the top two bubble playoff teams.
They are closely followed by the Colts, Browns, and Broncos, but focusing on their immediate matchup, Cincinnati should try to take advantage of a recently stomped-on team. In Week 10, the Kansas City Chiefs soundly defeated Las Vegas and jumped to the top of the AFC West, taking the fourth playoff seed.
The Bengals don’t have the superhuman quarterback play of Patrick Mahomes, but they do have a nice sidekick (think Robin, compared to Batman) in Joe Burrow.
If Burrow can limit his interceptions and force his way to a win over Las Vegas next week, Cincinnati will be renewed with that feeling they’ve been riding on all year: hope.