Bengals can improve seeding by doing nothing

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are off this weekend, but can slide into the third seed with a Broncos win over the Patriots. However, they can't touch the second seed... just yet.

Even though Cincinnati is off this week, they'll lose a half-game lead Sunday because someone in the division will win. Currently the Browns, Steelers and Ravens are sitting in second (through fourth place) at 4-6 record respectively. The winner between the Steelers and Browns will bite into Cincinnati's lead, reducing their deficit from 2.5 to two games -- the loser will drop to three games out. Baltimore plays the Jets but the same scenario applies for them -- a win reduces their deficit to two games whereas a loss drops them three games out.

Pittsburgh is looking to capitalize on their two-game winning streak after beating the Buffalo Bills by 13 and the Detroit Lions by 10. Cleveland, on the other hand, continues riding a downward spiral having lost four of their last five games. Cleveland might play the Steelers tough, but Pittsburgh usually prevails, winning 17 of the past 19 games between the two. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who needs five touchdowns passes to surpass Terry Bradshaw for most touchdown throws in franchise history, is 15-1 as a starter against the Browns with 24 career touchdowns, 10 picks and a passer rating of 99.8. The Browns, on the other hand, have won three of their past four games at home... so there's that.

Pick: Steelers

I know this sounds crazy, but I believe that when the Bengals and Steelers meet in week 15, it will be far more important than we had originally thought earlier this month. Cincinnati holds their destiny for the AFC North, but not a first-round bye (more on that in a a minute).

Week 14 (Colts) and 15 (Steelers) will be huge.

Seeding possibilities.

Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals

Bengals fans have a vested interest in a couple of Sunday's games. Currently the playoff seeding looks like this.

  1. Denver Broncos
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. New England Patriots
  4. Cincinnati Bengals
  5. Kansas City Chiefs
  6. New York Jets

Bengals in conference seeding: Since the Colts and Bengals won't meet until Dec. 8 (week 14), the head-to-head tiebreaker (the first tiebreaker in every scenario) wouldn't apply. The second tiebreaker is conference record. The Bengals are 5-3 against AFC teams while the Colts are 5-2. Indianapolis plays the Cardinals this Sunday so their conference record won't change, therefore it blocks Cincinnati out of the first-round bye... in week 12. If the Colts beat the Cardinals, its all for naught.

If the Broncos beat the Patriots, Cincinnati can rent the third seed due to their 13-6 win over New England earlier this year. Otherwise, Cincinnati's position in the standings will remain relatively unchanged.

However, Cincinnati doesn't control their own destiny for the second seed... yet. If the Colts beat the Cardinals, they'll have a one-game lead (8-3) over the Bengals (7-4) with a critical week 14 meeting upcoming. However, if the Cardinals pull out the upset, Cincinnati will control their own destiny for the second seed because they'll have an identical record as the Colts and the head-to-head will be the only tiebreaker applied in our scenario -- they need help for the first. So, go Palmer? Hey, that actually didn't give me gut-wrenching pain. Alright!

I guess they'll just have to play the season out.

However, if Cincinnati pulls out a win against the Colts, they'll have secured two major wins against the conference with the Patriots already in their pocket. If the Bengals had only beaten the Browns, Ravens and Dolphins earlier this year (sigh). Before we get ahead of ourselves, the San Diego Chargers are next. Everything else is background noise.

***

A couple of notes in the NFL:

The Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs are each 9-1. If both teams win this Sunday, it will mark the first time in 65 years (1948) that two teams in the same division have won 10 of their first 11 games. The Chiefs are scheduled to host the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos will play the New England Patriots in Foxboro, in the annual Brady vs. Manning bowl that hasn't been relevant for over three years.

The only teams to start 10-1 in the same division were the Chicago Cardinals and the Chicago Bears, then members of the NFL's Western Division during the memorable '48 season. The Cardinals finished 11-1 before losing the 1948 Championship game by a score of 7-0 to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Bears (10-2) finished second in the Western Division.

Additionally, if the Broncos beat the Patriots, quarterback Peyton Manning will extend his NFL record for most seasons with at least 10 wins by a quarterback in NFL history. Tom Brady has 10 and with three more wins this year, he'll surpass Brett Favre (10) for second all-time.

PLAYER

TEAM(S)

MOST 10+ WIN SEASONS

Peyton Manning*

Indianapolis, Denver

12

Brett Favre

Green Bay, Minnesota

10

Tom Brady*

New England

10

John Elway

Denver

8

Many tied

6

If the Bengals win three more games, Andy Dalton will earn his second 10-win season in his three-year career.

After rebounding from an 0-6 start, the New York Giants are (some how) on a four-game winning streak and only 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC East. If New York defeats Dallas on Sunday, the Giants will become only the second team in NFL history to follow up a six-game losing streak to start the season with a five-game winning streak. The '09 Titans were the other, having gone 0-6, winning five in a row and finishing the season 8-8.

  • Drew Brees (49,288) needs 38 yards passing against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football to surpass Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon (49,325) for fifth-most in NFL history.
  • With 67 yards rushing this weekend against the Green Bay Packers, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will surpass Barry Sanders (9,766) for third-most yards rushing in the first 100 games of a career in NFL history. Eric Dickerson (10,818) and Jim Brown (10,403) are first and second respectively.
  • Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will become the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving in a career, 85 days after his 30th birthday. Randy Moss is currently the youngest, having reached 11,000 yards receiving at 30 years old and 222 days.
  • Andrew Luck needs 264 yards passing to surpass Drew Bledsoe (7,049) and Andy Dalton (7,067) for fourth-most passing yards in the first two seasons to start a career.

The quarterbacks with the most passing yards in the first two seasons of a career in NFL history:

PLAYER

TEAM

MOST PASS YARDS IN FIRST TWO SEASONS OF CAREER

Cam Newton

Carolina

7,920

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis

7,874

Dan Marino

Miami

7,294

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati

7,067

Drew Bledsoe

New England

7,049

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis

6,804*

*Through Week 11

***

Pro Bowl Vote Update

As Anthony pointed out Wednesday evening, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has acquired the second-most votes among all wide receivers for the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl. Green's 368,708 votes (through Tuesday) ranks eighth overall with quarterback Peyton Manning and Drew Brees leading with 654,309 and 540,036 votes respectively. A look at everyone.

NFL ALL-STAR TOP-TEN VOTE-GETTERS

POS. NAME, TEAM VOTES
QB

Peyton Manning, Denver

654,309

QB

Drew Brees, New Orleans

540,036

RB

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

453,761

WR

Calvin Johnson, Detroit

449,346

RB

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle

443,533

RB

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota

410,002

TE

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans

376,637

WR

A.J. Green, Cincinnati

368,708

RB

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia

349,706

WR

Dez Bryant, Dallas

345,850

NFL LEADING VOTE-GETTERS BY POSITION

POS. NAME, TEAM VOTES POS. NAME, TEAM VOTES
QB

Peyton Manning, Denver

654,309

DE

J.J. Watt, Houston

194,539

QB

Drew Brees, New Orleans

540,036

DE

Mario Williams, Buffalo

185,531

RB

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

453,761

DT

Dontari Poe, Kansas City

181,342

RB

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle

443,533

DT

Jason Hatcher, Dallas

164,398

FB

Mike Tolbert, Carolina

182,773

OLB

Tamba Hali, Kansas City

169,597

FB

Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland

135,692

OLB

Terrell Suggs, Baltimore

167,522

WR

Calvin Johnson, Detroit

449,346

ILB

Kiko Alonso, Buffalo

188,153

WR

A.J. Green, Cincinnati

368,708

ILB

Sean Lee, Dallas

151,571

TE

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans

376,637

CB

Richard Sherman, Seattle

257,196

TE

Julius Thomas, Denver

278,765

CB

Patrick Peterson, Arizona

189,605

T

Branden Albert, Kansas City

120,081

SS

Kam Chancellor, Seattle

94,332

T

Joe Staley, San Francisco

106,074

SS

Eric Berry, Kansas City

82,770

G

Zane Beadles, Denver

108,105

FS

Earl Thomas, Seattle

195,586

G

Jeff Allen, Kansas City

96,187

FS

Eric Reid, San Francisco

62,319

C

Max Unger, Seattle

112,168

P

Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City

89,051

C

Manny Ramirez, Denver

110,123

P

Andy Lee, San Francisco

49,598

K

Stephen Gostkowski, New England

105,182

ST

David Bruton, Denver

75,118

K

Nick Folk, N.Y. Jets

78,764

ST

Eric Weems, Chicago

67,012

PR

Devin Hester, Chicago

130,570

PR

Trindon Holliday, Denver

107,912

Remember how the voting process works. A third is the fan vote (above), coaches vote and players vote. If you're distressed that Vontaze Burfict isn't listed at linebacker, just remember that Andrew Whitworth won the fan vote at offensive tackle in 2009 but didn't make the Pro Bowl after the coaches and players voted.

***

Bengals Fans May Celebrate Now

In news that might cause one to celebrate, CBS announced on Wednesday that Dan Dierdorf, color analyst for the B-team with Greg Gumbel, is retiring after this season. Dierdorf retires as the long-tenured analyst on television having spent the last 30 years as an NFL broadcaster, following a 13-year playing career with the St. Louis Cardinals that earned him an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I have been blessed to spend my entire life in the game I love," said Dierdorf. "I had an opportunity to go from the field directly to the broadcast booth where I have had the privilege of working with the giants of our business including Ray Scott, Lindsey Nelson, Jack Buck, Dick Stockton, Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Verne Lundquist, Dick Enberg and lastly, my partner, Greg Gumbel. It has become a challenge for me to travel to a different NFL city every week, so it’s time to step aside. This has been a wonderful ride as I really have lived the dream."

Dierdorf, an impressive offensive lineman in the 70s, earned six All-Pro selections, selected as the NFL's top offensive lineman three times and was voted to the NFL Team of the Decade for the 1970s. However, he mostly endeared himself to Bengals fans by finding fault in Bengals players where he'd excuse other teams for making the same mistakes.

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