Bengals Playoff Picture: Cincinnati leads AFC North entering Week 16

Kristen Wong
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals have jumped into first place in the AFC North, securing an automatic postseason berth. The last three games will seal their fate.

A crucial victory against the Denver Broncos has set the Bengals up for prime playoff positioning, but other teams follow closely behind.

In Week 15, Joe Burrow led his team past Teddy Bridgewater’s Broncos in a very forgettable game. The Bengals defense arguably played the best, allowing Denver just one score and one field goal in a tense 15-10 win.

Burrow’s trend of limited turnovers continues — the quarterback didn’t have all that much to do in Week 15, but he did enough.

The last three games of the season will be thrilling considering how each could impact Cincinnati’s postseason hopes.

Here’s what the AFC playoff picture looks like after Week 15:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)
  2. New England Patriots (9-5)
  3. Tennessee Titans (9-5)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)
  5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
  6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
  7. Buffalo Bills (8-6)

IN THE HUNT: 8. Baltimore Ravens (8-6), 9. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1), 10. Las Vegas Raiders (7-7), 11. Miami Dolphins (7-7), 12. Cleveland Browns (7-7), 13. Denver Broncos (7-7)

What a wild 2021 season. All AFC teams could feasibly make a last gasp effort to reach the playoffs.

As of now, Cincinnati would host Jonathan Taylor and the Colts in the AFC Wild Card round, Tennessee would host the Chargers, and New England would welcome in the Bills.

Cincinnati Bengals re-enter playoff seeding as current AFC North champion

As far as the AFC North, the Bengals could not have wished for better results. The Ravens fell to the Green Bay Packers, ceding their division-leading spot; the Browns lost by a field goal to the Las Vegas Raiders, missing their golden opportunity to jump into first place.

The Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with an upset victory against the Titans, but Cincinnati at least holds the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh.

After Week 15’s results, the Bengals are the only AFC North team sitting in playoff seeding as the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns rank eighth, ninth, and twelfth in standings respectively.

All know how fickle the AFC North can be, and just one loss could shake up the order drastically. Any team in the Bengals’ division could finish first or last by the end of the season depending on the next three weeks’ results.

In Week 16, Cincinnati has one of their toughest tests as the team prepares to face the Ravens.

Next. 3 winners and 3 losers from Bengals’ week 15 ugly win vs. Broncos. dark

Joe Burrow will be expected to do much more in that game, especially against Baltimore’s weakened secondary unit. Can the Bengals ride their recent success all the way to the playoffs in 2021?