The Cincinnati Bengals lost a crucial Week 16 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The loss gives the Bengals an 0-5 record in the AFC North and they have just three wins in the conference. That's ultimately going to hurt them in the tiebreakers but fortunately for them, they have tiebreakers against the right teams. The Bengals could be vying for a playoff spot against the Bills, Colts, and Jaguars, all of whom they have a head-to-head advantage over.
How can the Bengals punch their ticket to the playoffs for the third straight year?
We'll just point out the obvious here: The easiest way for the Bengals to get into the playoffs is to win their final two games. Doing so would give them an 82% chance of making the postseason, per The New York Times. However, that doesn't factor in any of the other 8-7 teams' results in their final two games.
If the Colts win their Week 17 match-up against the Raiders, the Bengals' odds dip to 79%. If the If the Texans also win, it dips to 77% and so on. Another factor for the Bengals is that if the Steelers win out as well, it doesn't matter what Cincinnati does because the Steelers own the season sweep so they'd be ahead of them in the seedings.
It probably doesn't need to be said but if the Bengals drop one more game, their chances of making the playoffs are slim to none. They'd have to get a lot of help if that ended up being the case.
It's obviously not a guarantee that the Bengals get in with wins in their final two games but it hopefully would be enough.