We're now in the final three-game stretch of the 2015 NFL regular season.
How well the Cincinnati Bengals do in those three games will determine whether they're getting a first-round bye in the postseason and hosting playoff games, or if they're playing on the road in the Wild Card round. The Bengals are 10-3 and tied with the Denver Broncos for one of the two byes in the AFC while also being just a game behind the New England Patriots for the No. 1 seed.
However, Cincinnati is also just two games ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North lead. It will be hard for the Steelers to catch the Bengals in just three games, but with Cincinnati playing with a new starting quarterback, just winning one more game is no certainty.
Here's a look at the Bengals' rooting interests for Week 15 based on the playoff picture.
New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. on Saturday
Root For: The Jets
Reason: The Jets currently have one of the AFC Wild Card spots within their grasp ahead of the 8-5 Steelers. Since the Steelers just came into Cincinnati and won, it's safe to say New York is a much better matchup for the Bengals.
Plus, a home playoff loss to the Jets would stink, but another loss to the Steelers? That'd be a nauseating feeling that would last the entire offseason.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. on Sunday
Root For: The Chiefs
Reason: Same as the Jets. The 8-5 Chiefs are holding a narrow lead over the Steelers for one of the final Wild Card spots. Kansas City has already come to Cincinnati and gotten their tails kicked, and while the Bengals have since lost Andy Dalton, the Chiefs have lost one of the best players in football in Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs hold a tiebreaker over the Steelers as they've beaten them this season. If the opportunity were to arise, I'd like Cincy's chances in a Wild Card rematch with the Chiefs, even with AJ McCarron at quarterback.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. on Sunday
Root For: The Texans
Reason: One of the Bengals' few losses this season came at the hands of the Texans. The more Houston wins, the better Cincinnati's strength of schedule will be when the season ends. It's possible that helps in a tie-breaking scenario if the Bengals and Steelers finished with equal overall, division and conference records. The same may be true if the Bengals finish with the same record as the Patriots, since the two teams don't play each other.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. on Sunday
Root For: The Titans
Reason: The more the Patriots lose, the more the possibility grows for the Bengals to get the top seed in the AFC. At this point, Cincinnati winning the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs are about as long as Tennessee's odds of winning in New England, so if the latter happens, the former suddenly becomes very possible.
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m. on Sunday
Root For: A Tie
Reason: Depending on how the Bengals finish their final three games, they may need the Steelers to lose one more game to win the AFC North. This is easily the most likely loss left on Pittsburgh's schedule as they play the lowly Ravens and Browns to end the season.
However, the Broncos are tied with the Bengals for one of first-round byes in the AFC. While the winner of that No. 2 seed will likely come down to the Week 16 matchup between the two, a loss or tie here keeps the possibility alive that the Bengals lose in Week 16, but then the Broncos turn around and lose in Week 17.
In other words, two more Bengals wins, plus a Denver loss and tie in the final three games would result in the Bengals winning the No. 2 seed. There's little chance of that happening, but rooting for it to happen is better than rooting for the Steelers.
Cincinnati Bengals at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. on Sunday
Root For: The Bengals
Reason: Friends don't let friends root for the Niners.