If the Season Ended Today: Bengals Take the AFC's No. 1 Seed in the Playoffs

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals gives instructions to his team during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bengals won 24-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Through the first nine weeks of the 2011 season, the Cincinnati Bengals, led by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, have a 6-2 record. They've defeated the Browns, Bills, Jaguars, Colts and Titans and lost to the Broncos and 49ers. Because the Patriots' loss to the Giants keeps them at 5-3 and the Steelers' loss to the Ravens on Sunday night puts them at 6-3, the Bengals and the Ravens, who also have a 6-2 record, are tied as the two teams with the best record in the AFC.

Because of that, you shouldn't be shocked when I say that if the season ended today that the Bengals would be in the playoffs, along with the Ravens and the Steelers. However, you may be shocked to know that they wouldn't just be in the playoffs, they would be in the playoffs as the AFC's No. 1 seed, complete with a first-round bye and a guaranteed home game.

Here's why.

You might think that the Ravens would be ahead of the Bengals because of their division record -- they're 2-0 in the division while the Bengals are 1-0. That's not the case, though. The Ravens are chasing the Bengals in the conference standings because of who they've lost too.

The Bengals' wins over both the Jaguars and Titans, which were both on the road, separates them from the Ravens. The Ravens lost to the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Monday Night Football in Week 7 and lost to the Titans in Tennessee in Week 2 and, according to the NFL, the Bengals' win percentage in common games breaks the tie between them and the Ravens and puts them on top of the AFC.

Of course we're only half way through the 2011 regular season and the second half, compared to the first, is brutal. The fact that they would have the No. 1 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started tomorrow doesn't really mean much moving forward, but we can all agree that the Bengals have surprised us up to this point. 

I think we can all agree that the Bengals are good, but now we get to see how good this team really is.

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