The Cincinnati Bengals are in the thick of the playoff hunt as they travel to Nashville for a rematch of last year’s divisional game against the Tennessee Titans. While we know a win helps the Bengals, they can still get extra help from around the league. Let’s take a look at what teams you should pull for this weekend to help the Bengals in not just earning a playoff spot, but the highest seed possible.
Buffalo Bills @ Detroit Lions on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. EST
Root For: The Lions
Reason: Currently sitting as the fifth seed, Buffalo has a one-win advantage over the Bengals on the record books. While early in the season, it looked as if the Bills may walk to the top seed in the AFC, they have shown flaws and are riding off of an emotional week after a snowstorm cut down their practice time and forced their game out of their own stadium. Ironically, they will be playing in Detroit for the second straight week.
The Bengals handling their business, paired with the Lions pulling the upset would bring Buffalo to 7-4, allowing the Bengals to match their record and keep pace. We are just a shade over a month away from the Monday Night Football matchup with Buffalo traveling to Cincinnati, so keeping up with them will be important if the Bengals are to get the head-to-head win on January 2nd and have a chance to pass up Buffalo in the playoff picture.
It may not be likely, but anything can happen on Thanksgiving, right?
New England Patriots @ Minnesota Vikings on Thursday at 8:20 p.m. EST
Root For: The Vikings
Reason: As the Bengals currently sit in the seventh seed, New England is right above them as the sixth seed. If the Bengals are able to get the win in Tennessee and the Vikings pull off the win on Thanksgiving, Cincinnati will sit with a better position when the week is over.
Another reason is that the Patriots come to Cincinnati on Christmas Eve, so if New England falls to Minnesota, that is one more loss on their record before the Bengals get the chance to pick up a head-to-head win that could be very important as the regular season comes to a close. Say what you want about the state of the Patriots now, but we should want to avoid traveling to New England in the postseason if at all possible.
Baltimore Ravens @ Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST
Root For: The Jaguars
Reason: Despite starting division play with an 0-3 record, the Bengals still have a path to win the AFC North and host a home playoff game. That path starts Sunday with the Jaguars pulling off an upset. Baltimore hasn’t exactly looked their strongest in the last couple of weeks, so Trevor Lawrence has a chance to knock off one of the top quarterbacks in the league and build his resume. Bengals fans would certainly appreciate it.
Essentially, you need to root against Baltimore every week. The Week 18 matchup in Cincinnati will not only allow the Bengals a shot at revenge, but could be a chance to secure their second-straight AFC North crown.
Houston Texans @ Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST
Root For: The Texans
Reason: Miami has looked good since getting Tua back, but there is another chance for the Bengals to pick up a win, match records with Miami and still have the head-to-head win in their back pocket if it comes down to it in January. If Cincinnati is able to handle their business down the stretch, that September win could be a key element of getting the Bengals a higher seed than Miami.
Do you know who Davis Mills is? If you don’t, just hope he plays well Sunday (if he starts).
Chicago Bears @ New York Jets on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST
Root For: The Bears
Reason: Despite being a team that averaged 2.7 inches per offensive play in the second half last week (no, really), the Jets are still in the hunt for a playoff spot. Currently sitting right below the Bengals at the eighth spot, the Jets would miss the playoffs if the season ended today. With that said, they currently have the same record as the Bengals, a better record in their own division and a better record against the AFC. Thankfully, the Bengals beat the Jets back in Week 3, so they would get the nod if things ended today.
Some weeks, the Jets look like a real threat and other weeks they look like, well, the Jets. Pulling for Ohio State alum Justin Fields is the best move for this week. Another loss on their record if the Bengals win will keep them from nipping at the heels of the defending AFC Champions.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts on Monday at 8:15 p.m. EST
Root For: The Colts
Reason: This game really doesn’t matter for the Bengals’ playoff hopes at all, but root against Pittsburgh because it is the right thing to do.