If the NFL regular season wrapped up this very instant, the Cincinnati Bengals would miss the postseason for the first time since the 2020 season (Joe Burrow's rookie season). A slow start paired with a tough division and losing Burrow for the year has led the Bengals to a 5-6 record after Week 12 and it's going to be tough sledding if they want to make the playoffs.
At this point, winning the division is a long-shot. If the Bengals want to get into the postseason, it'd need to be as a wild card team but they've only won one game against an AFC opponent (the Bills in Week 8). That won't help them much in the tiebreaker situation even if they were to get themselves in contention.
Let's check out the playoff picture now that Week 12 is in the books.
AFC playoff picture entering Week 13
- Baltimore Ravens (9-3)
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-3)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3)
- Miami Dolphins (8-3)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)
- Cleveland Browns (7-4)
- Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
In the hunt: Houston Texans (6-5), Denver Broncos (6-5), Buffalo Bills (6-6), Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
I normally don't include teams with losing records in the "in the hunt" category but since this is a Bengals site, they're included this week.
The Bengals not being in the playoff picture is bad enough but it's even worse that the Ravens would own the top seed in the AFC right now. They'll have their bye week this week so if the Chiefs win, they'll overtake the Ravens for the top spot due to conference record (KC has only lost to one AFC team while the Ravens have lost to three).
The Wild Card round would look like this if these seedings remained the same:
- Chiefs vs. Colts
- Jaguars vs. Browns
- Dolphins vs. Steelers
At this point, Bengals fans aren't expecting a run to the playoffs but we'll keep tracking the race until the Stripes are eliminated from contention.