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A tough remaining schedule for the Steelers keeps the Bengals’ playoff hopes alive

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Given their remaining schedule, the Bengals are down but not out in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Bengals fell to the Baltimore Ravens this weekend, but more importantly they fell another step behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North standings. While the Bengals are down, they are certainly not out. Given the strength of the Steelers’ remaining schedule and the fortuitous Week 17 matchup between the rivals, there is a chance that it could all come down to that final game.

Here is how the Bengals could still have a shot at the AFC North title.

10 is the magic number. 10 wins could very well win the AFC North. The Steelers stepped up and proved they are amongst the league’s best by winning their last six games. While Lamar Jackson could give the Ravens a late-season spark, their remaining schedule leaves little margin for error. The Ravens may be able to get the last wild card slot in the playoffs, but the Bengals are in better position to challenge the Steelers for the division title.

The Steelers are currently sitting on top of the AFC North with a record of 7-2-1, which puts them 2.5 games ahead of both the Bengals and the Ravens. What’s important here is that Pittsburgh has a tough stretch of games coming up in December. They play the Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, and New Orleans Saints in a four-week stretch. If they win their other two games (vs. the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, respectively) and lose those three game they would come into their Week 17 matchup with the Bengals at 9-5-1.

The Bengals also play the Broncos and Raiders in the coming weeks as well as the Cleveland Browns twice. Their most difficult game prior to Week 17 is against a strong Chargers team. If they win the games they should win and lose to the Chargers, they would come in to Week 17 at 9-6.

There is very little margin for error here, in fact there is basically none. If the Bengals split with the Browns or blow a game against the Raiders or Broncos it would take something miraculous for them to win the AFC North. Likewise, if the Steelers are able to pull off a win against the Chargers, Patriots, or Saints the Bengals will have to pull off a surprise victory of their own against the Chargers or hope that the Steelers blow it against one of the better teams on their schedule.

This is not a likely scenario or a prediction, but it is something that is very possible if a few things fall the Bengals’ way. The Bengals only lost to the Steelers by seven points the last time around. If they can get themselves within a half game by Week 17, they would have a chance to pull it off.