When the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17, they were officially eliminated from playoff contention following the 2023 season, partially thanks to the Steelers and Bills winning.
The Cleveland Browns, who beat the Jets on Thursday night, locked up their playoff position. By the time the Bengals had lost on Sunday, that playoff spot had become the No. 5 seed. The two Ohio rivals will now play next Sunday at 1 pm ET CBS.
No matter what happens between the Browns and Bengals, the Browns will be the 5-seed, and the Bengals’ season will be over.
Because neither team truly has anything to play for in Week 18, Vegas believes the Browns will sit their starters in hopes of avoiding injury in the final week of the season.
According to DraftKings, the Bengals are favored at home by four points, and the over/under is set at 40 points.
While the Browns will likely be sitting offensive guys like (checks notes) Joe Flacco, Amari Cooper, Jerome Ford, and defensive star Myles Garrett, the Bengals, who are also likely to give some of their younger guys some more playing time, will be playing most, if not all, their starters.
The other difference in the game will be what the teams are playing for. The Browns will be playing to stay healthy, while the Bengals, with several players set to enter free agency who will be looking to bolster their value.
If nothing more, it’ll be fun to watch the Bengals hopefully kick the tar out of a division rival, ending the season on a high note.