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2015 NFL Playoff Picture: Bengals fan Week 14 rooting interests

Can the Bengals knock off the Steelers and keep hold of the top spot in the AFC?

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are very close to winning the AFC North, and depending on how the final four games play out, may end up with home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

Thanks to many upsets in Week 13, the Bengals are now atop the AFC standings entering the final quarter of the season. If you followed last week's rooting interests, you'd know the Eagles beating the Patriots was easily the biggest non-Bengals win to happen last week.

Now, it's time for a look at this week's rooting interests for Cincinnati.

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST

Root For: The Raiders

Reason: The race for the AFC's top seed is essentially down to the Broncos, Patriots and Bengals. If the Broncos lose to the Raiders, it will help the Bengals to gain a better grasp on the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.

There's also the big Week 16 showdown between the Bengals and Broncos in Denver. If the Broncos are able to hold serve and win at home this week, the Week 16 matchup becomes even more important, as we're assuming it will be.

It's unlikely the Broncos lose at home to the Chargers in Week 17, but next week they travel to Pittsburgh which should be an interesting matchup.

In other words, a Broncos win this week means the Bengals essentially must win in Denver to earn the top seed and maybe even one of the first-round byes with the Patriots also sitting at 10-2.

New England Patriots at Houston Texans on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST

Root For: The Texans

Reason: Again, the Patriots, Broncos and Bengals are fighting for those first-round byes, and every loss by Denver and New England from here on out is almost as good as an actual Bengals win. Looking at the rest of New England's schedule (vs Tennessee, at New York, at Miami), this is probably their best chance to lose for the rest of the regular season.

If the Bengals win at home this week, losses by the Broncos and Patriots would put the Bengals alone atop the AFC standings heading into Week 15. A loss by the Pats or Broncos at least puts Cincy a full game up in the race for one of the byes.

Also, a win by the Texans also boosts the Bengals' strength of schedule in the event it comes down to that tie-breaker between Cincinnati, New England and Denver for seeding.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST

Root For: The Bengals

Reason: In addition to the obvious, a win not only gives the Bengals the AFC North, but also assures them of ending Week 14 still on top of the AFC, regardless of what the Broncos and Patriots do. Every win from this point on is crucial to getting at least a first-round bye.

Beating the Steelers won't be easy, but it's a game Cincinnati needs to win to accomplish their goals. It would also be just the third sweep the Bengals have achieved in this series since 1999.

San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST

Root For: The Chiefs

Reason: As of now, the Chiefs hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Steelers. That means if Kansas city and Pittsburgh finish the regular season with equal records, it will almost certainly be the Chiefs getting the edge for a playoff spot.

If the Bengals end up playing in the Wild Card round, would you rather see Alex Smith's Chiefs or Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers come to Paul Brown Stadium?

Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST

Root For: The Bills

Reason: As mentioned above, if the Bengals end up playing in the first round, you'd rather see a team like the Bills come to PBS than the Steelers. Buffalo is also battling the Steelers for one of the Wild Card spots, and Cincinnati has already dominated the Bills in Buffalo this season. Also, a win by the Bills increases the Bengals' strength of schedule and strength of victory.