There is no question the Bengals will need help getting into the playoffs this year.
Entering Week 11 at 3-5-1, Cincinnati needs certain teams to lose several games over the final seven weeks of the regular season if a postseason berth is to come. At this point, however, it’s mostly AFC North teams that the Bengals need to lose, as a Wild Card spot is looking more and more unlikely every week.
Here is a look at who Bengals fans should be rooting for and against this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cleveland Browns - 1:00 PM on CBS at FirstEnergy Stadium
You know the drill. Root against Pittsburgh, even as painful as it may be to root for Ohio’s evil stepchild.
Decision: Root for the Browns.
Baltimore Ravens vs Dallas Cowboys - 1:00 PM on CBS at AT&T Stadium
This is easily the biggest game of Week 11 for the Bengals, well, other than the game they actually play in.
Cincinnati needs to win and Baltimore lose to set up a winner-take-the-lead game next Sunday. Two straight wins by the Bengals coupled with two straight defeats for the Ravens, along with one Steelers loss in the next two weeks, means the Bengals would be leading the AFC North coming out of Week 12...at 5-5-1.
Decision: Root for the Cowboys.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Kansas City Chiefs - 1:00 PM on FOX at Arrowhead Stadium
In the highly-unlikely event the Bengals are able to catch the Chiefs, we could see Cincinnati steal a Wild Card spot. They would need to finish in the neighborhood of 9-6-1 and have Kansas City lose five of their final seven games. It’s hard to see that happening without one big upset, which losing at home to Tampa Bay would be.
Decision: Root for the Bucs.
Miami Dolphins vs L.A. Rams - 4:05 PM on FOX at L.A. Memorial Coliseum
It’s possible that the 5-4 Dolphins finish the regular season with a better record than the Bengals, so if those two are competing for a Wild Card spot, Cincinnati needs Miami to lose several games down the stretch.
Decision: Root for the Rams.
Houston Texans vs Oakland Raiders - 8:30 PM on ESPN Monday Night Football in Mexico City
In the event the Bengals win the AFC North, it looks like the Texans will win the AFC South, which means those two would likely be competing for the No. 3 and 4 seeds in the AFC playoffs.
There usually is not that big a difference between hosting the No. 5 or 6 seed in the Wild Card round, but in the unlikely event both teams made it to the AFC Championship game, the 3 seed hosts that game.
But just like the Chiefs scenario above, you could argue a Raiders loss here helps Cincinnati’s slim Wild Card hopes. if the 7-2 Raiders lose 4-5 games down the stretch, it’s possible the Bengals steal one of the Wild Card spots from them, but it’s highly unlikely.
Decision: Root for the Raiders, but a Texans win is OK, too.