The AFC race is tight, but there aren't many contestants for the Cincinnati Bengals to outlast. The two current teams in the hunt for the AFC wild-card spots are the New England Patriots (6-5), and the Los Angeles Chargers (6-5).
Outside of the Patriots and the Chargers, every other team in the AFC is below .500 by a significant margin. The Colts, Steelers, Browns, Jaguars, and Raiders all currently have four wins and seven losses, sitting two to three games back of just the possibility of a spot opening up for them with six games remaining on the season. The Colts only have five games remaining, as they also have a tie in their record.
This means that the Cincinnati Bengals more than likely only need to outlast 2-3 teams, and they should be just fine landing one of those seven playoff spots. However, they are currently tied for the Ravens in the AFC North, so if they can somehow beat the Ravens, then none of that will matter because they would automatically clinch a top 4 seed regardless of their record.
The Bengals are currently sitting as the sixth seed with a 7-4 record, and the New York Jets are in the seventh and last spot with a 7-4 record.
The Bengals hold the tiebreaker with the Jets and the Dolphins (8-3), who are currently leading at the top of the AFC East. Now, what teams potentially stand in the Bengals way of them clinching a playoff berth?
*all teams and player personnel courtesy of Pro Football Reference
New York Jets
Three spots are open for five teams; as I mentioned, the Bengals and the Jets hold those two of those spots right now, and the Bills hold the other one. The Jets are still a team to keep an eye on, especially if teams that are in the hunt put together a string of wins that put them above New York or Cincinnati. Holding the tiebreaker against the Jets is pretty important down the season's stretch.
Cincinnati does not have an easy schedule, but neither do the Jets and they also have gotten swept by the Patriots, who are just a game behind them. The Jets are basically right in the fold with a few teams that have tiebreakers over them.
Come Week 17 or Week 18, and this could be why the Jets miss the playoffs if they can't find a way to outright win games down the stretch of the year. The magic number is 10. If you get to 10 wins, there's a good chance you can make it at this point in the season.
There's no guarantee just yet but the Bengals won the division at 10-7 last year. Regardless, the Jets will be a team that Bengals fans should be rooting to lose each week from here on out and they will have to win some tough games like the Bengals to secure a well-earned spot.