With 5 games left, the road ahead looks difficult but a playoff spot in Dalton's rookie season is still possible. Next up is Pittsburgh who put on a performance to be forgotten in KC. Expect a different team at home next week though. A health Dunlap should provide some necessary pass rush which is key to slowing down the Steelers. After that, it's back home to a 2/3-full Paul Brown to face the Texans. The run defense needs to tighten back up (today against Cleveland was pretty poor) especially since rookie T.J. Yates (who?) is running the show at QB. Then it's out to the West Coast to face the Cardinals and then back to Cinci to face the Rams. Neither team is better than the Bengals but it doesn't mean they won't be hard-faught games. Finally it's Baltimore for the home and season finale. The Ravens have been bipolar this year and unfortunately we've seen the good side. Don't expect them to lay an egg in January though.
The remaining teams fit well into our defensive strengths (except the Texans who can run like mad) and our offense is geared to excel against the NFC West teams. On paper we should finish the final stretch 3-2 which would give us a 10-6 record. That might be enough to keep us in the sixth seed but with the Jets always dangerous for a late-season run it's hard to say. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. Go Bengals!