With 19 seconds remaining during Thursday Night’s game against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Dan Orlovsky placed a well thrown pass high enough where only Reggie Wayne had an opportunity to out-leap the secondary to haul in the reception. It was a game-winning touchdown, giving the Colts a 19-16 win over their division rivals in Houston. That being said, the unstoppable Orlovsky-Wayne connection helped the Cincinnati Bengals’ improbable playoff run.
Did it redefine scenarios? No, not even close. But what else did you expect from an 1-13 Colts team hosting a 10-4 Texans squad that beat the Bengals only weeks earlier.
Before Thursday Night’s game, the New York Jets had the sixth seed for the 2011 NFL playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker. That tie-breaker is strength of victory, combining all of the records that the Bengals and Jets beat respectively and compiling a winning percentage. Cincinnati beat the Browns (twice), Bills, Jaguars, Colts, Seahawks, Titans and Rams, giving the Bengals a strength of victory of .304.
Alternatively the Jets, who haven’t beaten the Colts or Texans this season, head into this weekend with a strength of victory .402. Seems distant the strength of victory between the Bengals and Jets, doesn’t it?
As Wayne hauled in the game-winning touchdown, securing Indianapolis’ win over the Texans, it improved Cincinnati’s strength of victory to .310; still distant but every win by those the Bengals defeated will be critical if both teams finish the season at 10-6.
And that’s the crucial point. The New York Jets do not have an opponent with a winning record remaining on their schedule whereas the Bengals do not have an opponent with a losing record, helping to vastly improve their strength of victory, provided that both teams finish the schedule with a winning record.
If, and we offer that in the most cautious terms, both teams win out, then the Colts win on Thursday means that the Bengals still need a five-game swing.
In other words the Bengals need teams like the Browns, Seahawks, Titans and Rams to get hot. Though the Bengals were victorious against the Bills, the Jets beat them twice requiring wishful scenarios of Buffalo finishing the season on a losing streak because it would hurt New York more. Both teams beat the Jaguars, negating whatever they do for the rest of the season.
Additionally the Bengals need losing streaks by the Cowboys, Chargers, Redskins and Chiefs.
It’s all improbable in reality, but still possible. None of it matters, however, if the Bengals can’t finish the season with ten wins. Realistically anything less and they’re out.