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After week 13, the Bengals are favorites for a wild card

I’m walking with a John Travolta strut this cold Antarctica morning. As I strolled past my Browns co-workers, I gave them a Tom Cruise (Top Gun if you’re lost), thumbs up. Not for them sucking so bad and getting morbid pleasure out of it. But because they actually helped us out – like someone woken out of bed to pick up his drunken friend out of jail.

Nearly everything that could have helped the Bengals and their playoff scenarios happened. The Browns beat the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime. The Seattle Seahawks kicked the game winning field goal with a few seconds to spare. The Bengals ripped the AFC North division leaders – by all things, our defense – to close within two games of the division lead.

The New York Jets benefit from having a sensationally easy schedule. They beat the Green Bay Packers 38-10 and still have the Bills (5-7), Vikings (5-7), Dolphins (5-7) and Oakland (2-10) on tap – a combined 17-31 record.

The Jacksonville Jaguars is a team no one is convinced will make the playoffs. They win convincingly one week and stink worse than three-month old cheese (i.e. Packers) in the middle of a hot Ohio afternoon. They still have the Colts (10-2), Titans (5-7), Patriots (9-3) and Chiefs (7-5) – a combined 31-17 record.

The Denver Broncos (with Cutler going 10/21 for 143 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday night) are in the middle of a three-game losing streak with the Chargers (10-2), Cardinals (3-9), Bengals (7-5) and 49ers (5-7) left – a combined 25-23 record.

The only way the Kansas City Chiefs hope to make the playoffs is having the better record. Their conference record (3-5) is the worst among the playoff hopefuls. They still have the Ravens (9-3), Chargers (10-2), Raiders (2-10) and Jaguars (7-5) – a combined 28-20 record.

Your Cincinnati Bengals have a schedule that looked rough… at first. The Steelers will be tough, but are 5-7. The Broncos (7-5) are in a miserable losing streak and don’t seem likely to rebound – that’s hopeful, by the way. The Raiders (2-10) have the potential of playing the Bengals after a 12-day stretch with three tough games and a Monday Night showdown with the Indianapolis Colts (10-2). Otherwise, other than the Colts, the Bengals are expected to win three in their final four games.

As of now, the Bengals own the fifth seed. ESPN explains that the "Bengals would be the No. 5 seed based on better conference record than the Jets, Jaguars and the Chiefs (who are ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West based on better division record)."

Playoff Picture [ESPN]
Conference Standings [NFL]