That's the standard for Cincinnati's postseason possibilities with the Bengals hosting the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It doesn't matter what Baltimore does against the Minnesota Vikings, nor does it matter if our little geographical brothers in Cleveland can disrupt New England's run for a first-round bye.
Of course, win, loss or draw, this weekend will set into motion significant implications. We're identifying three games this weekend that will have an immediate and direct impact in Cincinnati's postseason seeding. The Bengals/Colts (obviously), Patriots/Browns, and Ravens/Vikings. Instead of breaking them down, a cheat-sheet:
A couple of notes in the AFC:
Denver Broncos. With a win this weekend over the Tennessee Titans, the Broncos will secure a berth in the postseason. Even if they lose the remaining games on their schedule, at the very least, they'll have the sixth seed. The Broncos can still lose this weekend and earn a postseason berth, but need a Vikings win over the Ravens. It stands more likely that Denver will clinch the AFC West soon anyway... unless something catastrophic goes down (more on that below).
Kansas City Chiefs. If Kansas City beats the Washington Redskins and either the Miami Dolphins or the Baltimore Ravens lose, the Chiefs will secure a postseason berth. Like the Broncos, they could lose out (with the previously mentioned scenario) and still claim the sixth seed (if they both lose out, then the Broncos will win the AFC West). However, unless the Broncos, who have a 1.5 game lead over the Chiefs (the half-game is due to Denver sweeping the season serious against Kansas City), collapse, the more realistic scenario is that Denver will eventually become AFC West champions and the Chiefs will claim the first wild card spot (No. 5 seed).
New England Patriots. The Patriots can secure a postseason berth through a couple avenues. If they win and the Miami Dolphins lose, the Patriots secure the AFC East and have at least a four seed. However, if the Dolphins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots win, New England would need a Vikings win over the Baltimore Ravens to secure a wild card berth. They can improve their standing with a division-clinching win next week.
Indianapolis Colts. With a win over the Bengals on Sunday, the Colts will win the AFC South title. However, it's not needed. If Tennessee loses, the Colts win the title regardless of what Indianapolis does.
Projected Seeding After Week 14. I'm projecting:
The Denver Broncos beat the Tennessee Titans (the game is played in Denver).
The New England Patriots beat the Cleveland Browns (the game is played in New England).
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Indianapolis Colts (the game is played in Cincinnati).
The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Washington Redskins (the game is played in Washington)
The Baltimore Ravens beat the Minnesota Vikings (the game is played in Baltimore).
- Denver Broncos
- New England Patriots
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Indianapolis Colts
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Baltimore Ravens