The Cincinnati Bengals have had one of the craziest seasons in the NFL so far this year, but he Bengals still lead the AFC North with a 6-3-1 record. Cincinnati is going to need to win all three of their divisional games left on the schedule, and then beat up on the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to win their division.
Cincinnati’s biggest competition is AFC North is Pittsburgh (7-4), and the two teams play twice between now and the end of the season. Those match-ups are going to be key in determining who wins the division, as well as earns the higher seed in the playoffs.
As we get closer to the playoffs, each game begins to take on more significance in the AFC North. Especially since the Browns and Ravens are right behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the standings.
As for the rest of the NFL’s playoff picture, it’s just as murky as the AFC North. But we’re going to take a look at the picture anyway.
THE PLAYOFF PICTURE
New England Patriots, 8-2 (AFC East): The Patriots are on a role so far this season, including an absolute butt whooping of the Denver Broncos at home. New England has a two game lead in the AFC East.
Cincinnati Bengals, 6-3-1 (AFC North): Cincinnati currently leads the AFC North, with a 6-3-1 record, and there isn’t a lot of separation between the top of the division and the bottom.
Detroit Lions, 7-3 (NFC North): The Lions have the tie breaker advantage over the Packers in the NFC North right now, but both teams have a 7-3 record. Detroit is stacked on offense, and has an extremely talented defense; chances are the Lions will be in the playoffs come January.
Indianapolis Colts, 6-4 (AFC South): Indianapolis has somehow managed a 6-4 record, and the first place spot in the AFC South. The Colts very well could end up winning their division and hosting a home games in the playoffs, but their are a lot of holes in the defense and questions about the team’s ability to hold off the Texans.
Atlanta Falcons, 4-6 (NFC South): The NFL could end up seeing a sub-.500 record win its division for the second time in the league’s history; this time its in the NFC South. Atlanta currently has the lead in the division thanks to an tie breaker advantage over New Orleans.
Denver Broncos, 7-3 (AFC West): Denver has found its self in a dog fight with Kansas City for the AFC West. The Broncos face each member of their division once in their last six games, including a November 30th Monday Night match-up on November 30th.
Arizona Cardinals, 9-1 (NFC West): Arizona currently leads its division by three games, and are looking like a lock to pick up the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-4 (AFC): Pittsburgh is still in the hunt for its division title and very well could end up with the divisional title. But the Steelers are going to need to sweep the Bengals to have a good chance at winning the AFC North.
Kansas City Chiefs, 7-4 (AFC): Kansas City is one of the better teams in the AFC, despite its loss to Oakland. The Chiefs will get one more shot at the Broncos in the regular season, picking up a win on Monday Night would be huge for the team’s playoff chances.
Dallas Cowboys, 7-3 (NFC): Dallas has been a surprise so far this season, and is contending for their division, despite quarterback Tony Romo’s back injury from the Washington game. The Cowboys beat up on Jacksonville in London, and will face the New York football Giants on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers, 7-3 (NFC): Green Bay is almost always in the playoff conversation, and is looking to win another division title. The Packers need to win the rest of their divisional games — their next game against the Vikings and the regular season finale against Detroit — if they are going to win the NFC North.
In the hunt:
San Francisco 49ers, 6-4 (NFC)
Seattle Seahawks, 6-4 (NFC)
Pittsburgh Steelers, 6-4 (AFC)
Baltimore Ravens, 6-4 (AFC)
San Diego Chargers, 6-4 (AFC)
Cleveland Browns, 6-4 (AFC)
Miami Dolphins, 5-5 (AFC)
Houston Texans, 5-5 (AFC)
Buffalo Bills, 5-5 (AFC)