Where are the Bengals in AFC playoff race?

The Cincinnati Bengals were in the No. 7 position in the AFC playoff picture after the early Sunday games, but by the end of the night, they were back “on the bubble” and sitting at No. 10 currently.

A blowout win over the Colts would have helped in some tiebreaker scenarios, but a logjam of six teams sitting at 7-6 and fighting for two playoff spots makes the AFC standings a bit muddled. The Broncos’ win over the Chargers and the Bills’ win over the Chiefs created quite the shakeup.

Five teams are 8-5 or better, including the No. 1 Baltimore Ravens (10-3) and No. 5 Cleveland Browns (8-5), but the Steelers, Colts, Texans, Broncos, Bengals and Bills are all at 7-6 and fighting for those last two spots.

In situations with multiple teams tied, divisional tiebreakers are used to cut the group down to one team per division. The Steelers have the edge on the Bengals in the AFC North and the Colts have an advantage over the Texans in the AFC South, while the Bills represent the AFC East and Broncos the AFC West.

That makes a four-team race for the No. 6 seed, and the Steelers prevail based on a .750 winning percentage in the conference.

The tiebreaker scenarios all start over with the five-way tie for the No. 7 seed. The only division conflict left is the Texans and Colts, and again, the Colts have the head-to-head advantage. The four-way tie between the Bengals, Colts, Broncos and Bills goes to the conference record, where the Colts are 5-4, the Broncos and Bills 4-5 and the Bengals 3-6.

So, Indianapolis ends up back in the No. 7 position where it started the day and ahead of the Bengals, whom the Colts just lost to 34-14.

Then, it comes down to a similar process for figuring out the No. 8-11 spots. The Texans ended up at No. 8, the Broncos at No. 9 and the Bengals at No. 10. The Texans have the best conference record at 4-4, the Broncos win a tiebreaker over the Bengals based on conference record and over the Bills because of head-to-head edge.

The Bengals win the No. 10 spot based on head-to-head with Buffalo, and the Bills end up at No. 11. The Chargers at 5-8 are next in line.

Cincinnati can’t improve its AFC record next week against the Vikings, but with four games left, every win matters and an 8-6 record gets the Bengals closer.

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