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Biggest remaining game of Bengals’ stacked schedule

The Bengals face a ton of contenders to end the season, but what is their biggest contest left?

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Every week is going to feel like a playoff game for the Cincinnati Bengals. They will not only be facing talented teams, but they will be directly facing teams they are competing for a spot in the playoffs with.

All six remaining teams on their schedule have at least six wins on the season right now. Five of those six teams are either in or right on the bubble for the AFC playoff race with Cincinnati. The only exception are the 49ers, who are currently a Wild Card in the NFC.

This gauntlet started following the Bengals’ bye week in Week 10. They came out and defeated the Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers. That has them placed as the fifth seed currently, but that is far from a safe position with the teams remaining.

Bengals’ remaining games

All of these games hold plenty of weight. It obviously helps that the AFC West still will be able to beat up on each other a little bit. However, a single loss could drop them down to a place where at least five other teams start chomping at their ankles. There is one game here that will have the biggest impact for these Bengals and their chances at making the playoffs.

Honorable mentions

  • The Browns game appears to be a big one for a few reasons. It is a division game, it is the last game of the season, but most importantly it is a way for this team to make a statement by beating a Browns team that stomped them a week after they traded away Odell Beckham Jr. However, it doesn’t get the biggest award as the Browns’ offense looks like it pulled off a fluke against the Bengals. They’ve scoring 17 points or fewer in six of the last seven games. This may end up being their easiest game.
  • The Chiefs present one of the better measuring tests this team will get before the playoffs. We saw the Bengals go toe to toe with the Green Bay Packers earlier this season (currently the second seed in the NFC), but the Chiefs look more like the team that has been to a couple of Super Bowls than what they were at the beginning of this season. This also could be a preview of a Wild Card matchup as these two teams would face each other if the playoffs started today. Still, one game far outweighs the others.

The Bengals and Ravens rematch in the Jungle

Cincinnati made a statement in Week 7 when they blew out Baltimore and pushed their way to the top seed of the AFC before sliding their way into their bye week. So why is this the most important? Home field advantage.

The Bengals could win out and lose every game except the Ravens game and still end up as only the fifth seed. Baltimore could even lose two more games after beating Cincinnati to still hold onto the AFC North. Even with Baltimore’s tough schedule to end the season, that is too much room for error.

Cincinnati winning this game would give them the edge on the Ravens in the event that both of these teams ended up with the same record. Not to mention that win would be more of a two win swing as far as the race for the AFC North goes. The easiest way to make sure you make the playoffs is to make sure you win the division after all.

Being a division winner automatically hooks the Bengals up with a home game. That makes the possibility of a deep run in the playoffs a little more likely than having to win three straight games on the road to make it out of the AFC considering teams like Kansas City, New England and Baltimore are pretty hostile places for teams to have to go into during the playoffs. The idea of having to go through several of them is pretty daunting.

Most of these teams in the hunt for playoff spots are going to lose games. Cincinnati doesn’t have to be perfect to make the playoffs. Their best way of assuring their spot is to beat a majority of these teams. However, beating Baltimore provides the biggest swing for them, and it has potentially the biggest reward at the end.