The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to move one step closer to a playoff berth Sunday, if they can finally get a win against the Cleveland Browns. A win would move them to 9-4 and as the current fifth seed in the AFC, they would likely move up a spot.
While the Bengals can take care of their business, a few other teams in the AFC could help them out this weekend. Let’s take a look at the Week 14 rooting guide.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST
Root For: The Jets
Reason: You could find a reason to root for one or the other here, really. As the seventh seed in the AFC, the Jets are behind the fifth-seeded Bengals, so them winning wouldn’t hurt Cincinnati much if they get a win against Cleveland Sunday.
What the Jets winning could do is help the Bengals along with their outside chance at the top seed in the conference and a first round bye. Buffalo comes to Cincinnati on January 2nd for a big Monday Night Football showdown, so Zac Taylor and Co. could have a chance at a head to head tiebreaker if it comes down to it.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST
Root For: The Jaguars
Reason: Despite having a head-to-head win over the Titans, the Bengals still sit below them in the AFC playoff picture. Tennessee is a spot ahead of Cincinnati, as the fourth seed. Jacksonville getting the win Sunday, paired with a Bengals win would bump Cincinnati ahead of Tennessee with a two-game record advantage, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker. We asked Trevor Lawrence to help us out a couple weeks ago against Baltimore and he delivered. Maybe he can do it again.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at 1 p.m. EST
The Steelers Baltimore to lose.
Reason: Look, I get it. This feels gross. This is normally a no-win situation, but the black and yellow foe from the state to the east can do the Bengals a favor Sunday. If the Bengals can take care of Cleveland and Baltimore falls to Pittsburgh, the Bengals would be in sole possession of the AFC North. With a Week 18 showdown with Baltimore set to close the season, them dropping a game or two beforehand could go a long way.
I want to stress this one more time: You don’t have to root for the Steelers to win. Just tell yourself you’re rooting for Baltimore to lose. While unlikely, we could compromise and get a tie.
Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at 8:20 p.m. EST
Root For: The Chargers
Reason: The Bengals are currently on spot ahead of the sixth-seeded Dolphins, but just in case the Bengals stumble over these next four games, Miami picking up a loss Sunday could help the Bengals, if they need it to. With the head-to-head in favor of Cincinnati, it could be a factor in playoff seeding. Hopefully, this won’t matter if the Bengals win games, but a fallback plan never hurt anyone.
The Bengals’ path to the playoffs and a second-straight AFC North crown is fairly simple: Win football games and it should all play out. In the NFL, anything can happen, so getting help from around the league could pay off in January.