Week 15 NFL playoff picture: A costly loss for the Bengals in the AFC

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals
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The Bengals showed a lot of fight in coming back from 14 points down to force overtime on Sunday, but they wound up losing to the 49ers and it may wind up as a moment of great regret come the offseason.

Baltimore’s loss earlier in the day meant that the Bengals would be in first place in the AFC North if they were able to secure a win in the late afternoon slot in Week 14. Two muffed punts and some conservative play-calling left them down big in the fourth quarter, however, and two Ja'Marr Chase touchdown catches weren’t enough to knock off the NFC West club.

As a result, the Bengals failed to move up in the standings and now find themselves on the outside of the playoff picture because of the loss. They will have to go to Denver next Sunday and then close out the season with the Ravens, Chiefs, and Browns so they can’t afford any more stumbles if they want to book passage to the postseason.

Here’s how the entire playoff picture looks after Week 14’s action:

1. Patriots (9-4) The bye week offered some rest ahead of a final playoff push that starts with an intriguing matchup in Indianapolis in Week 15.

2. Titans (9-4) Facing Jacksonville always makes a team feel better, but a truer test of their mettle awaits in Pittsburgh next Sunday.

3. Chiefs (9-4) Winning in Los Angeles on Thursday night would likely make them AFC West champs once again.

4. Ravens (8-5) Losing to the Browns is always painful, but it will be doubly so if Lamar Jackson has to miss an extended period of time.

5. Chargers (8-5) They beat the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium and a season sweep would shake up the top of the conference’s playoff picture.

6. Colts (7-6) Not playing on Sunday worked out well and the Colts are well positioned for a postseason berth, but no one should be hanging any banners with four weeks still left on the schedule.

7. Bills (7-6) They showed a lot of fight by coming back in Tampa, but they need actual victories not moral ones to finish off their playoff bid.

8. Browns (7-6) They’ve alternated wins and losses for the last eight weeks and continuing on that path won’t work if they’re going to return to the postseason.

9. Bengals (7-6) Sunday’s game in Denver may be a playoff eliminator for the losing side.

10. Broncos (7-6) An emotional win over the Lions keeps them in the hunt for at least one more week.

11. Steelers (6-6-1) The Steelers have played their best when everyone writes them off, so this may be a good week to bet on Pittsburgh.

12. Raiders (6-7) Dancing on the Chiefs logo before Sunday’s game may turn out to be the last happy moment of the Raiders season.

13. Dolphins (6-7) Their bye week interrupted a five-game winning streak, but the scheduling gods made it up to the Dolphins by serving up the Jets in Week 15.

ELIMINATED

14. Jets (3-10) Official playoff elimination came far later than assumed playoff elimination for the Jets.

15. Texans (2-11) The Davis Mills era will run for at least four more weeks.

16. Jaguars (2-11) The Urban Meyer era may run for just four more weeks.

18 responses to “Week 15 NFL playoff picture: A costly loss for the Bengals in the AFC

  1. 12. Raiders (6-7) Dancing on the Chiefs logo before Sunday’s game may turn out to be the last happy moment of the Raiders season.
    —————————
    Happy?
    All it did was make the Chiefs mad.
    Thus the final score.

  2. Quite a few Patriots fans online celebrated the division title yesterday.

    I’m not mathematician – but I think if they lose to the Colts Sunday, the next game against the Bills COULD be interesting.

    The Bills looked like the team we expected in the 2nd half yesterday. The schedule lines up nicely for them over the last month. Here’s hoping….

  3. The Pats are going to show that not only is Buffalo a paper tiger, so is Indy. Lots of tigers running around in the NFL these days.

  4. Patriots have one signature win. The Chargers. Lots of paper tigers running around the NFL these days.

  5. The Patriots will win the AFC, and the conference championship game will likely take place between them and the Chiefs. Even with Lamar Jackson, the Ravens aren’t that good.

  6. It would be so much fun to see an exciting bengals team in the playoffs. However, the team and it’s coach are showing their youth and seem to just squander too many opportunities. The future is bright but they still need to fix their offensive line and play better situational football.

  7. 4. Ravens (8-5) Losing to the Browns is always painful, but it will be doubly so if Lamar Jackson has to miss an extended period of time.

    ———
    Why? Huntley showed to be the better option at QB moving forward.

  8. Can we please stop with the “the Ravens have no chance without Lamar” absurd narrative? He’s been the worst or 2nd worst QB in the league for the past 7 weeks! The Ravens, in fact, have a much better chance at winning a playoff game with Huntley at QB. Lamar’s gimmick offense is dying a quick death. It might have worked had he bothered to learn how to throw and actually read a defense. But he simply hasn’t, and is going downhill fast in year 4. One read, can’t throw it downfield or outside the numbers, and is clueless under pressure. His QBR is 9 against the blitz. 9. I know the facts hurt, but at least we should try to be honest in assessing him. He’s been awful for the past 7 games.

  9. The Bengals and boy wonder Zach Shula are going nowhere. All that talent on offense and no offensive line to give Burrow time. Add in poor offensive play calling and it spells another season sitting at home. But hey, Mike Brown made money so the season was a success.

  10. @billsrthefuture

    The Patriots own the Colts. Don’t count on the Patriots losing that game. The Bills missed their window last year when they choked at Arrowhead in their AFCC game.

  11. billsrthefuture says:
    December 13, 2021 at 10:26 am
    Quite a few Patriots fans online celebrated the division title yesterday.

    ____

    Bills fans everywhere were celebrating the division title back in JUNE, but now its a problem when Pats fans do it with an actual two game lead in the division?

  12. “Bills fans everywhere were celebrating the division title back in JUNE, but now its a problem when Pats fans do it with an actual two game lead in the division?”
    ____________________________

    Didn’t say it was necessarily a problem. It will just be kind of fun if the Bills still pull it out. It wasn’t really the Patriot Way/”on to the Colts” that we’ve come to expect to see so many of their fans celebrating the title yesterday.

    If the Pats take care of business against the Colts and Bills (and I don’t want to forget about at Miami, which can be troublesome for that team), they’ll deserve the division and all of the accolades that come with it. And their fans can beat their chests as much as they want, though they never need permission to do that regardless of the circumstances.

  13. The Patriots have one signature win? Buffalo was an AFC powerhouse until last week set them back a mile. They’ve beaten a few teams who now have decent records

  14. I appreciate what you’re saying but the Steelers are probably one of like 5 AFC teams that ain’t winning jack

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