Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Losing to the Dallas Cowboys hurt but it's not a deal-breaker. Not yet.
That was rough.
Yet as they say, the show must go on. The sun rises from the east. Taxes are still due April 15, but that won't matter because the Mayan calendar expires a week from Friday. Life goes on... for now.
Entering the weekend the Cincinnati Bengals were 7-5, an identical record to the Pittsburgh Steelers but perched as the No. 7 seed due to Cincinnati's loss to Pittsburgh in Week Seven. Both teams were two games behind the Baltimore Ravens, still with breathing room as the AFC North leaders at 9-3.
Then all three teams lost on Sunday.
Now departing Week 14, the Cincinnati Bengals are 7-6, still tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and still perched as the No. 7 seed due to the team's loss to Pittsburgh in Week Seven. And still both teams are two games behind the Baltimore Ravens, still with breathing space as the AFC North division leaders at 9-4.
Why do we even play these games if nothing changes.
If the No. 6 seed Wild Card comes down to the Bengals and Steelers, which appears to still be the course, the Bengals need to beat the Steelers in Week 16. This neutralizes the first tiebreaker, setting the stage for the second. The wild card tiebreaker between teams in the same division reverts to the division tiebreaker (which is different than teams not in the same division).
Here's the nutbreaker. The next tiebreaker is record within the division.
If the Bengals and Steelers enter Week 16 with identical records (either winning or losing next week) and Cincinnati beats the Steelers, Pittsburgh can still claim the Wild Card if they beat the Browns while the Bengals lose to the Ravens. This puts Cincinnati at 2-4 and the Steelers 3-3. Beat the Ravens and Steelers. That's the tag-line starting now. Hell that's been the tag-line since 1996.
If the Bengals lose to Philadelphia and the Steelers beat Dallas, that gives the Steelers a one-game advantage heading into "The Showdown". However the Bengals beat the Steelers and Ravens, while the Steelers finish the season with a win over the Browns, and the Bengals claim the No. 6 seed by virtue of the conference record tiebreaker. Bengals would be 7-5, the Steelers 5-7.
If it boils down to games against common opponents (which it won't):
|RAVENS||0-1 (Week 17)||1-1|
|BROWNS||1-1||0-1 (Week 17)|
Since the Jets and Bengals do not meet this season, the next tiebreaker for a wild card spot is winning percentage in the conference. Currently the Bengals are 5-5 against the AFC with games against the Steelers and Ravens remaining. The Jets are 4-5 with games against the Titans, Chargers and Bills. If both teams finish the season with a similar conference record, then it goes to record against common opponents.
However, even if the Bengals lose to the Eagles and finish the season 9-7 with wins against the Steelers and Ravens, it doesn't matter if the Jets finish the season on a winning streak. The Bengals claim the No. 6 seed with strength of victory.
|Pittsburgh||0-1 (Week 16)||0-1|
|San Diego||1-0||Week 16|