Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a win -- or with losses by the Steelers and Ravens

When the season hadn't started yet and you had just finished watching another awesome episode of Hard Knocks, did you ever think to yourself that the Cincinnati Bengals, your Cincinnati Bengals, would clinch the AFC North in week 14? I'm not ashamed to say I wasn't expecting it. In fact, I reference that the team appeared to be in a rebuilding mode. The Sporting News made several June predictions, which ranged from Marvin Lewis being on the hot seat to the Bengals unable to stop the run to not enough stability on defense to ensure success. They predicted Cincinnati to fall to last place.

I did make one prediction. If the Bengals average two sacks a game, they're going to the playoffs. Through 12 games, the Bengals are averaging 2.4 sacks per game. And as luck would have it, if the Bengals beat the Vikings this Sunday, or if both the Ravens and Steelers lose, the Bengals clinch the division and ensure at least one home playoff game.

Is it a forgone conclusion? Sunday's game against the Vikings will be a tough measuring stick against one of the league's best teams and the Browns host Pittsburgh and the Ravens host the Lions. So don't bank on both teams losing this weekend. If the Bengals want to clinch the division, they'll have to win it -- or wait another week.

Think back to August. Dust off those unused capsules you call brain cells. Before the season started, did you predict this, that the Bengals would officially win the division with a win this weekend or losses by both the Steelers and Ravens?

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