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Bengals fan rooting guide for the Divisional Round of NFL playoffs

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Which former Bengals players and coaches are playing in the Divisional Round of the playoffs? Here’s a look at that and more rooting interests for this weekend.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, only one team with connections to the Bengals moved on from the Wild Card round.

The Bills, who have become the biggest Bengals fans in the world since Week 17, were squashed by the Jaguars in a very ugly game that was ruled by defense.

Even worse was Andrew Whitworth and the Rams couldn’t keep their magical season going, and the veteran offensive tackle is still searching for his first playoff win as a pro. He now holds the record for most playoff losses of any current NFL player.

This week, there are a few teams that had a bye during the WIld Card who have connections to the Bengals. You should consider rooting for them, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Mike Zimmer (Vikings)

The Vikings have become one of the feel good stories of the season. After they lost Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook early in the season, it seemed like things were going to get ugly quick. They were forced to start Case Keenum, but what transpired was an improbable MVP run by the backup quarterback.

What really fueled this team though was Mike Zimmer’s incredible defense. Bengals fans will always have a place for Zimmer in their hearts after he coached with such passion after his wife passed away during the 2009 season.

It was hard not to root for the guy, and he consistently produced talented defenses. Many of the current Bengals defenders had their foundations established by Zimmer’s coaching, and were developed by Paul Guenther who learned from the former coordinator.

The Vikings defense also has Emmanuel Lamur and Terence Newman, but neither are really starters. The main reason to root for the Vikings is to see Zimmer get his first playoff win and keep this Cinderella story going.

Rex Burkhead (Patriots)

It wasn’t that long ago that Bengals fans were demanding to see more from Burkhead. He received more of a role with the Bengals following Giovani Bernard’s injury last season, but the Bengals were still dead set on trying to make Jeremy Hill work.

Finally, in Week 17 Burkhead put on a show against the Ravens when he rushed for more than 100 yards. It almost took the Bengals this entire season to reach that milestone again.

It was disapointing to see the team let Burkhead walk in free agency, but it was his time to prove he could play. He joined the Patriots and has been a key redzone contributor for them. He has eight touchdowns this season. All but one one of those touchdowns came during a six week span late in the season.

Burkhead is dealing with a knee injury, but unless he suffers a setback, he should be ready to play against the Titans this week. He also joins former Bengals players Marquis Flowers and James Develin on the Patriots’ roster.

Mohamed Sanu (Falcons)

Sanu was the only former Bengal player to win a playoff game last week. He and the Falcons will be taking on the Eagles who are without Carson Wentz. The Falcons are looking for redemption after losing to the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl after being up 28-3.

Sanu played his part in the Falcons’ win over the Rams last week by catching four passes for 75 yards including a 52 yard play. He may need a repeat of that performance to help the Falcons get a win over the No. 1 seed in the NFC and reach the NFC Championship game.