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THE CHRONICLE: Lewisisms, a schedule without schedules and more

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A few notes heading into Sunday's game, from injuries, things that Lewis says which don't make much sense and the AFC North featuring historic domination.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals won't have linebacker Vontaze Burfict for a fifth consecutive game (and seventh overall) this weekend when the team heads to Tampa Bay. Burfict has been recovering from a procedure designed to clean out his knee after the medical staff discovered something following Cincinnati's win over the Baltimore Ravens. Following Friday's practice, head coach Marvin Lewis (twisting his mustache with a "I'll get them off of our trail" routine that dodges the media's scent) said:

"He's progressing really well," Lewis said via Bengals.com. "When he proves he's on schedule, he'll be on schedule." What the hell does that even mean? Are we recognizing this as an adequate answer to a legitimate question? Are we left to our own interpretation devices? He was asked if he was on schedule. Oh, so what's the schedule? Well, no one really knows... it's a word used to get Lewis to open up a little about this player.

"He's got some good days and some days that are not so good," Lewis said about how Burfict has handled this season. "Hopefully for his future, he'll learn some valuable lessons from this."

Which ones?

"That you can't control some things; just work your tail off," Lewis said. "That's all you can do."

Joining Burfict is defensive end Margus Hunt, who hurt an ankle against the New Orleans Saints and missed last week's 22-13 win over the Houston Texans. According to reports, Hunt has shed the boot protecting his foot. And thank goodness... because what this team desperately needs is a defensive end averaging 14.3 defensive snaps per game in the combined months of October and November and who has generated a quarterback sack and two quarterback disruptions during that stretch.

Linebacker Nico Johnson is questionable with an illness and everyone else is probable.

MARVIN LEWIS AND HIS SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis talks about a full stadium during Monday's presser and it got me thinking... Lewis has about as much situational awareness about fans and the city as he does time management. Watch it. Make up your own mind. Is he innocently reflecting on an observation or was there a slight jab at fans?

WE PRESENT "FLACCO TURNOVER SHEET"

Settle down, NFL on ESPN twitter account. Lack of training, concepts and terminology will seem foreign for someone reading an NFL play-chart. For Joe Flacco, it's just sensory overload.

BENGALS SECOND SEED

If the Cincinnati Bengals defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and if the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday night football, the Bengals will control their own destiny in regards to the second seed. Considering that most of us are pessimistic folk when it comes to national/primetime games, this will be a great opportunity for the Bengals to slip into the divisional round by securing the second seed.

Of course the question is, how much does anyone really care. There's four games remaining after this weekend, with two slated against Pittsburgh, a Monday Night game against Denver and another critical division game in Cleveland.

What happens now is meaningless for now, in terms of seeding, if the Bengals trip up this weekend and every weekend through the end of the season. Things are way too close and the seeding process may not resolve itself until the final weekend of the season.

THE HISTORIC AFC NORTH

Not only does the AFC North feature four teams with winning records, but each team is a least three games over .500,becoming the first division in NFL history with every team three or more games over .500 at any point in a season. The AFC North standings through Week 12:

2014 AFC NORTH

TEAM

WON LOST TIED PCT.

Cincinnati Bengals

7 3 1 .682

Baltimore Ravens

7 4 0 .636

Pittsburgh Steelers

7 4 0 .636

Cleveland Browns

7 4 0 .636

LOSING RECORDS CAN STILL REACH THE POSTSEASON

Since the current twelve-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, there have been 17 teams that have reached the postseason despite having a losing record after 11 games... including one team in nine of the past 10 seasons. This includes a streak of seven consecutive seasons (2004-2010) in which a team with a sub-.500 record after 11 games reached the playoffs. Six of those seven won at least one playoff game. The teams with a losing record after 11 games to make the playoffs since 1990:

YEAR

TEAM

RECORD AFTER 11 GAMES

FINAL RECORD

ADVANCED TO

1990

New Orleans Saints

5-6

8-8

Wild Card

1993

Minnesota Vikings

5-6

9-7

Wild Card

1994

Detroit Lions

5-6

9-7

Wild Card

1994

New England Patriots

5-6

10-6

Wild Card

1995

Detroit Lions

5-6

10-6

Wild Card

1995

San Diego Chargers

4-7

9-7

Wild Card

1996

Jacksonville Jaguars

4-7

9-7

Conference Championship

1997

Detroit Lions

5-6

9-7

Wild Card

2004

St. Louis Rams

5-6

8-8

Divisional

2005

Washington Redskins

5-6

10-6

Divisional

2006

Philadelphia Eagles*

5-6

10-6

Divisional

2007

Washington Redskins

5-6

9-7

Wild Card

2008

San Diego Chargers*

4-7

8-8

Divisional

2009

New York Jets

5-6

9-7

Conference Championship

2010

Seattle Seahawks*

5-6

7-9

Divisional

2012

Washington Redskins*

5-6

10-6

Wild Card

2013

San Diego Chargers

5-6

9-7

Divisional

*Won Division

And as luck would have it, the '09 Jets and '13 Chargers beat the Bengals in the first-round of the playoffs during that respective year.

We have a hard time believing that any team currently possessing a losing record will make any noise in the AFC -- we're only talking about five teams anyway -- the Oakland Raiders (1-10), Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10), New York Jets (2-9) and Houston Texans (5-6). Alright, so Houston is only two games behind Indianapolis for the AFC South championship with both teams headed towards a critical week 15 match. On the other hand, Houston has the Titans, Jaguars (twice) and Ravens remaining on their schedule while the Colts have Washington, Tennessee on tap, but also Cleveland and Dallas.