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The Bengals’ best path to the playoffs is simple

There is still a chance.

NFL: DEC 23 Bengals at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As heavy as the Cincinnati Bengals’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers felt on Saturday, the rest of Week 16 played out pretty well in the Bengals’ favor.

The New England Patriots beat the Denver Broncos. The Atlanta Falcons beat the Indianapolis Colts. The Cleveland Browns beat the Houston Texans. If the Buffalo Bills hadn’t held off the Los Angeles Chargers, it would have been the perfect storm of other teams helping the Bengals’ hopes of making the NFL Playoffs.

Despite the loss, the Bengals still largely control their own destiny. If the Bengals are able to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs on New Year’s Eve and handle the Cleveland Browns to end the regular season, the New York Times playoff simulator gives them a 92% chance to make the postseason.

Let’s face it, Kansas City is a beatable football team. After their offense hasn’t looked the same all season, we saw them lose to a rookie quarterback and interim head coach on Christmas Day when they fell to the Las Vegas Raiders. While the Bengals looked pretty bad on Saturday, Kansas City is a flawed team.

For Cleveland, their Thursday Night Football matchup with the New York Jets could clinch their playoff berth. If Cleveland wins, they are set to participate in the tournament. Cleveland (somehow) still has a path to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

With that said, if the Baltimore Ravens knock off the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, they take Cleveland out of contention. With the 1 seed out of the question and a playoff berth secured, there is a high chance that Cleveland will sit their starters in the regular-season finale.

So as hard as the Week 16 fall hurt, the best path for the Bengals to make the playoffs is simple - win your last two football games.