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Indianapolis Colts loss opens the door for the Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals waited patiently as their competition worked out some postseason projections. The Steelers and Ravens won, reducing Cincinnati's lead in the AFC North to two games. Indianapolis, who had an opportunity to secure breathing room in the AFC, fall to a former friend.

Christian Petersen

Carson Palmer's departure in 2011 led to the introduction of this iteration of the Cincinnati Bengals -- a team aiming for their third consecutive postseason berth -- allowing them to wash their hands of the old guard. It also led the acquisition of cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and running back Giovani Bernard via the NFL draft -- the latter in conversations for offensive rookie of the year honors.

On Sunday, Palmer, the gift that keeps giving, helped to equalize Cincinnati's standing in the AFC.

Indianapolis entered the weekend at 7-3 aiming to secure a one-game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals heading into week 13 and the second-seed with a New England Patriots loss.

There wasn't much drama on Sunday, as the Arizona Cardinals easily dispatched the Colts 40-11 behind Carson Palmer's performance, completing 27 of 37 passes for 314 yards passing and two touchdowns. Arizona quickly jumped out to a 21-3 second quarter lead with a game-opening touchdown drive to open the bleeding. The Cardinals would go on to score on four of their six first half possessions (and one was a missed field goal). The Cardinals had secured a 27-3 lead by half time and cruised in the second half for the eventual win.

Since beating the Denver Broncos 39-33 in week seven, the Indianapolis Colts have squeezed past a 2-9 Houston Texans squad by three points, were blown out by 30 to the St. Louis Rams and beat the 5-6 Tennessee Titans by a field goal after facing a 17-3 deficit late in the second quarter.

Per Stampede Blue:

The Colts couldn't block anybody. Andrew Luck made some mistakes. They couldn't catch or get open. They couldn't tackle. They couldn't stop the run. They couldn't stop the pass. Basically, if you made a list of things to do if you wanted to lose a football game, the Colts would have likely done all or most of them today.

The Colts have fallen to 7-4 (still with an opportunity to move into second position with a Patriots loss on Sunday Night Football) while the Cincinnati Bengals sat during their bye week.

The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will dictate seeding heading into week 13:

If the Patriots win

  1. Denver Broncos (9-2)
  2. New England Patriots (8-3)
  3. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

If the Broncos win:

  1. Denver Broncos (10-1)
  2. Indianapolis Colts (7-4)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
  4. New England Patriots (7-4)

The Bengals will host the Indianapolis Colts in week 14.

Prior to that much anticipated match-up, Cincinnati will hit the road in San Diego, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs on a last-second touchdown throw from Philip Rivers. The Colts will host the Tennessee Titans, who also secured a win with a last-second touchdown.