Headed into the final week of the regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals had little idea what their first-round playoff game would look like. Could they get fortunate and claim the one or two seed? Would Cincy lose in the final week, dropping to a four seed?
After the Bengals fell to the Browns on Sunday, the stripes were in what looked like the worst possible outcome, a four seed. On the contrary, Cincinnati actually fell into a nice spot for the playoffs when considering their first-round game and future potential matchups.
Cincinnati Bengals locked and loaded for playoffs, with a favorable road ahead
Joe Burrow will lead the Bengals in a home wild-card clash against the Las Vegas Raiders. Initially, it appeared the four-seeded Cincy squad would play the Bills or Patriots in the Wild Card round. The Dolphins had different thoughts after upsetting the Pats, which ultimately led to Vegas snagging the five seed.
Cincinnati already handled the Raiders rather easily this season, winning 32-13 as a visitor. Now, the stripes are playing even better football and will be home for the rematch. Vegas has played better recently after beating the Colts and Chargers in back-to-back weeks, it will be a more rigid challenge this time around.
Not only is the first-round matchup favorable, but Cincy managed to fall on the Titans’ side of the bracket, avoiding the Chiefs until the AFC Championship Game if both were to make it.
The most likely scenario (at least we hope) is Cincinnati defeats the Raiders followed by a divisional game against the one-seeded Titans. This would be a difficult challenge with Derrick Henry returning, but could still be less treacherous than traveling to Kansas City in the postseason, especially with them being scorned about some questionable calls in that game.
Sure, it would have been nice to be a three seed or above, but this ended up being the best possible scenario for the Bengals as the four seed. A showdown with the Raiders is a favorable first-round matchup for Cincy. Plus, the postseason road past the wild card round looks better than expected.
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Finally, the NFL playoff stage is set. Your Bengals have earned a playoff berth and could make a nice run after falling into favorable seeding.
Get ready, it’s go time!