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Bengals Week 14 playoff picture and rooting guide

Playoff hopes are alive. Who can help the Cincinnati Bengals make it happen?

Syndication: Florida Times-Union Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals kept their playoff hopes alive in Week 13, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Monday night thriller. While the Bengals winning football games is most important, they can always use help from other teams along the way.

Here is a guide to who you should root for this week:

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots on Thursday at 8:15 pm (Prime Video)

Root for: The Patriots

Reason: First of all, rooting against the Steelers just comes naturally. Second, the Steelers sit at 7-5, which is a win above the Bengals. The Steelers currently possess a better division record and hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati. Furthermore, Pittsburgh has five AFC wins to the Bengals’ two. New England knocking Pittsburgh off helps the Bengals, no matter how you look at it. It actually happening is a whole other thing, however, as the Patriots have easily been one of the worst NFL teams this year.

Houston Texans @ New York Jets on Sunday at 1:00 pm (CBS)

Root for: The Jets

Reason: Houston holds a two-game advantage over the Bengals, a better conference record, and a head-to-head win, so the Jets pulling the upset could do the Bengals some good. Despite the Jets still being “in the hunt” with eight losses and a horrible quarterback situation, we should root for them to knock off Houston. New York will likely find its way out of the picture in the coming weeks, but they could do the Bengals a favor first.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns on Sunday at 1:00 pm (CBS)

Root for: The Jaguars

Reason: Cleveland sits at 7-5 with five AFC wins and a head-to-head over Cincinnati. With Jacksonville still on track to win the AFC South, they will likely occupy a playoff spot anyway, so adding a conference loss to Cleveland’s record works in favor of the Bengals. In a matchup that very well could be *checks notes* C.J. Beathard vs. Joe Flacco, pull for the Jaguars.

Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 4:25 pm (CBS)

Root for: The Chiefs

Reason: With Kansas City holding a two-game lead in the AFC West, the chances of them not winning yet another division crown and taking up a postseason slot are slim. With that said, Buffalo only has three wins within the AFC. Pair that with the Bengals’ head-to-head win over them and the Bills having an identical record as Cincinnati, Kansas City knocking off Buffalo helps.

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at 4:25 pm (CBS)

Root for: The Chargers

Reason: The Broncos have found their stride as of late, moving to 6-6 on the season. With the Chargers all but out of the picture at 5-7, they could do the Bengals a favor. Denver currently sits above the Bengals in the playoff picture, thanks to their three conference wins. If the Bengals can match that by beating the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Denver falling to an AFC foe boosts the Bengals' postseason odds.

Most importantly, the Bengals need to handle business when the Colts and Minshew Mania come to Paycor Stadium this Sunday.

Now, here is a look at the AFC Playoff standings for Week 14.

AFC Playoff Picture Week 14

  1. Miami Dolphins (9-3, AFC East leader)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (9-3, AFC North leader)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4, AFC West leader)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-5, AFC South leader)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5, Wild Card)
  6. Indianapolis Colts (7-5, Wild Card)
  7. Cleveland Browns (7-5, Wild Card)