Clinching Scenarios for the Cincinnati Bengals and the AFC

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at possible scenarios for the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as the final wild card team in the AFC.

The Cincinnati Bengals have already clinched the division championship, securing the AFC North title for the third time since 2005. No matter what happens this weekend, the Bengals will play another after Sunday. What the Bengals don't have is an opponent for next week, or the week after that if the football gods look upon with loving and favorable eyes.

CINCINNATI CLINCHES THE NO. 2 SEED

Simple, but with some help. The Bengals must beat the Baltimore Ravens Sunday for a chance at the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Then, Cincinnati needs the Buffalo Bills to upset the New England Patriots to secure the coveted bye week. Simply put, the Bengals need a win and the Patriots must lose for the Bengals to take the second spot.

In that scenario, the Bengals won't play until the second round (Jan. 11-12) and they'll host the higher seed. For example, if only one wild card team wins in the first-round, the Broncos will host them and Cincinnati will play the other. If both wild card teams win, then Cincinnati will host the No. 5 seed and if both division champions win, then Cincinnati hosts the No. 3 seed (which could be the Patriots). In other words, if the No. 3 and No. 5 teams win the first round, Cincinnati will host the No. 3. Denver will always play the highest seed (in terms of highest number with six being the highest).

CINCINNATI CLINCHES THE NO. 3 SEED

On the other hand, the Bengals secured the third seed if the Bengals and Patriots both win -- a scenario that's more likely with all things being fair. Cincinnati will then host the No. 6 seed next weekend (Jan. 4-5) against whomever survives from the four-way tiebreaker at the end of the day.

CINCINNATI FALLS TO THE NO. 4 SEED

If the Bengals lose and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, then Cincinnati will host the Kansas City Chiefs next weekend (Jan. 4-5).

THE CHEATSHEET

WINNER 
Ravens/Bengals
WINNER
Bills/Patriots
WINNER
Jaguars/Colts
BENGALS IN AFC BENGALS IN AFCN
Bengals secure the No. 3 seed. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals secure the No. 3 seed. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals secure the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals secure the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals fall to the No. 4 seed. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals secure the No. 3 seed. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals fall to the No. 4 seed and the Colts secure the No. 2. Clinched the division in week 16.
Bengals secure the No. 3 seed. Clinched the division in week 16.

WHO COULD BE THE NO. 6 SEED

A look at the scenarios this weekend.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Clinches a postseason berth with:

  1. MIA win plus BAL loss or tie OR
  2. MIA win plus SD win OR
  3. MIA tie plus BAL loss plus SD loss or tie OR
  4. MIA tie plus BAL tie plus SD tie

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Clinches a postseason berth with:

  1. BAL win plus SD loss or tie OR
  2. BAL win plus MIA loss or tie OR
  3. BAL tie plus MIA loss plus SD loss or tie OR
  4. BAL tie plus MIA tie plus SD loss OR
  5. MIA loss plus SD loss plus PIT loss or tie

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS

Clinches a postseason berth with:

  1. SD win plus MIA loss or tie plus BAL loss or tie OR
  2. SD tie plus MIA loss plus BAL loss

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Clinches a postseason berth with:

  1. PIT win plus MIA loss plus BAL loss plus SD loss
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