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With NFL playoffs still in reach, Bengals must expect challenge from lowly Buccaneers

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Somehow, the Buccaneers are still very much in the playoff race, which means the Bengals should expect a battle when they head to Tampa this weekend.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals appear to be getting an easy opponent this week with the lowly Buccaneers being on deck. However, Cincinnati cannot afford to underestimate a 2-9 Tampa team that's still just two games out of first place in the NFC South.

Most 2-9 teams would be well out of the playoff race, but the Bucs still have a lot to play for in this game. The Bengals cannot come in thinking they'll get little resistance from a bad team, which in most instances, would have mailed it in and called it a year.

And it's not as though the Bucs are routinely getting blown out. Five of their nine losses were by six points or less, while two others were decided by eight and 10 points. Everyone remembers the 54-14 shellacking they took from the Falcons and the 48-17 beatdown Baltimore put on them, but for the most part, this is a team that's managed to stay in games for four quarters.

Oh, and they won at Pittsburgh this year, something the Ravens, Colts and Browns couldn't do, despite their combined 21-12 mark. Still, this is a team the Bengals are decidedly better than, and so long as they play focused and determined to win, they'll do so.