Why they can: The unknown at QB
Jake Browning could end up being terrible in relief of Joe Burrow but what if he ends up playing decently? He had some decent throws when he had to come in on Thursday night and while the odds are stacked against him, if Browning can play even just average football, the Bengals have a chance.
Their schedule eases up a bit, as they play the Steelers twice over the next five weeks along with the Colts, Vikings, and Jaguars. They're probably not beating the Jaguars but the rest of those games are winnable. Crazier things have happened, after all.
Why they can't: Defense isn't the same
Burrow has been a big part of the team performing well in recent years but the defense also deserves a lot of the credit. Unfortunately, the unit has not been their usual selves this year and has been downright awful against the run, having surrendered the third-most yards on the ground, per Team Rankings.
The odds are already stacked against the Bengals but had Burrow missed time last year, it wouldn't have been crazy to say that the defense could have won them games (because they did). This year isn't the same story, however. This defense has struggled and might not be able to help their inexperienced quarterback out as much as they need to.
It's going to be hard for the Cincinnati Bengals to get the playoffs, especially with the hole they had already dug themselves into. That being said, it's the NFL and we see things happen all the time that shouldn't have happened.