The Cincinnati Bengals don’t play until Monday, but there will be plenty of games on Sunday that will affect their outlook for the next eight weeks.
Thanks to the AFC North being less than impressive this year, Cincinnati is still well within reach of the division crown, but the team needs to start stringing some wins together to remain in contention.
Here’s a look at who Bengals fans should be rooting for and against on Sunday.
Chiefs at Panthers - 1 pm EST on CBS
Outside of the North, the rest of the AFC has been very strong this year, especially when it comes to the AFC West. Kansas City enters Week 10 with a 6-2 record and three games ahead of the Bengals for a possible Wild Card berth if both teams fail to win their divisions.
That means anytime Kansas city is playing an NFC team from here on out, Cincinnati would be better off seeing the Chiefs lose.
Decision: Root for the Panthers
Packers at Titans - 1 pm EST on FOX
The Titans have quietly passed the Bengals in the Wild Card standings with a 4-5 record entering Week 10. That means Cincinnati needs Tennessee to start to lose a few more games, if a Wild Card spot is how the Bengals are going to make the playoffs. It’s also possible the Bengals and Titans win their respective divisions, so the team with the better record in that case would get a higher seed in the AFC playoffs.
Decision: Root for the Packers
Broncos at Saints 1 pm EST on CBS
If the Bengals’ tie with Washington does any good, it’s that it means there are no tiebreaker scenarios with Denver, who hold a head-to-head win over Cincinnati (unless Denver has a tie at some point). Amazingly, the Broncos have floundered enough as of late that the 3-4-1 Bengals could eventually pass the 6-3 Broncos in the Wild Card standings.
It’s not crazy to think that happens with the Bengals having a far more favorable schedule down the stretch than the Broncos, who face the Raiders, Patriots and Chiefs (twice).
Decision: Root for the Saints
Texans at Jaguars - 1 pm EST on CBS
In the event Houston struggles down the stretch and loses the AFC South to Indianapolis or Tennessee, we could see a battle for a Wild Card spot between the Bengals and Texans.
This game could also have an affect on seeding if the Bengals and Texans both win their divisions, though it’d likely be the difference between a No. 3 and 4 seed. The Bengals also play the Texans in Week 16.
Decision: Root for the Jaguars
Cowboys at Steelers - 4:2 EST on FOX
Does this one really need explaining? The Steelers could be 0-15 and Bengals fans would still root for them to lose in Week 17. This is also a big game for the Bengals’ hopes of winning the AFC North since Pittsburgh has a favorable schedule the rest of the way, but this will be one of their harder games. If the Steelers lose this week, and the Bengals win, the Steelers will fall to third place in the AFC North.
Decision: Always root against the Steelers; root for the Cowboys