Cincinnati Bengals: 2011 AFC Playoffs Scenarios

Scott SewellCorrespondent INovember 21, 2011

Cincinnati Bengals: 2011 AFC Playoffs Scenarios

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    Cincinnati Bengals fans are in unfamiliar territory as they try to figure out what needs to happen for their team to make the playoffs this season.

    The Bengals have only made it to the postseason twice since 1989, and they suffered tough first-round losses in both of those games.

    While their loss to the Ravens was difficult, it certainly wasn't unexpected, and it absolutely hasn't eliminated them from playoff contention.

    With only six games to go, let's take a look at the remaining schedules of key AFC teams in the playoff hunt.  

    We'll examine the following scenarios.

    1. Favorites win out
    2. Allow for a few upsets
    3. My predictions

    In the final slide, we'll take a look at the important games Bengals fans need to pay attention to on a week-by-week basis.

Favorites Win Out

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    The best teams don't necessarily win every game, but let's take a look at what the playoffs would look like if that actually happened for the rest of the regular season.

    New England Patriots: 13-3
    vs. Kansas Chiefs WIN (7-3)
    at Philadelphia Eagles WIN (8-3)
    vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN (9-3)
    at Washington Redskins WIN (10-3)
    at Denver Broncos WIN (11-3)
    vs. Miami Dolphins WIN (12-3)
    vs. Buffalo Bills WIN (13-3)

    Buffalo Bills: 9-7
    at New York Jets LOSS (5-6)
    vs. Tennessee Titans WIN (6-6)
    at San Diego Chargers WIN (7-6)
    vs. Miami Dolphins WIN (8-6)
    vs. Denver Broncos WIN (9-6)
    at New England LOSS (9-7)

    New York Jets: 11-5
    vs. Buffalo Bills WIN (6-5)
    at Washington Redskins WIN (7-5)
    vs. Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-5)
    at Philadelphia Eagles WIN (9-5)
    vs. New York Giants WIN (10-5)
    at Miami Dolphins WIN (11-5)

    Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
    vs. San Francisco 49ers LOSS (7-4)
    at Cleveland Browns WIN (8-4)
    vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN (9-4)
    at San Diego Chargers WIN (10-4)
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (11-4)
    at Cincinnati Bengals WIN (12-4)

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4
    at Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-3)
    vs. Cincinnati Bengals WIN (9-3)
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (10-3)
    at San Francisco 49ers LOSS (10-4)
    vs. St. Louis Rams WIN (11-4)
    at Cleveland Browns WIN (12-4) 

    Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (7-4)
    at Pittsburgh Steelers LOSS (7-5)
    vs. Houston Texans LOSS (7-6)
    at St. Louis Rams WIN (8-6)
    vs. Arizona Cardinals WIN (9-6)
    vs. Baltimore Ravens LOSS (9-7)

    Houston Texans 13-3
    at Jacksonville Jaguars WIN (8-3)
    vs. Atlanta Falcons WIN (9-3)
    at Cincinnati Bengals WIN (10-3)
    vs. Carolina Panthers WIN (11-3)
    at Indianapolis Colts WIN (12-3)
    vs. Tennessee Titans WIN (13-3)

    Tennessee Titans: 8-8
    vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WIN (6-5)
    at Buffalo Bills LOSS (6-6)
    vs. New Orleans Saints LOSS (6-7)
    at Indianapolis Colts WIN (7-7)
    vs. Jacksonville Jaguars WIN (8-7)
    at Houston Texas LOSS (8-8)

    Oakland Raiders: 9-7
    vs. Chicago Bears LOSS (6-5)
    at Miami Dolphins WIN (7-5)
    at Green Bay Packers LOSS (7-6)
    vs. Detroit Lions LOSS (7-7)
    at Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-7)
    vs. San Diego Chargers WIN (9-7) 

    Denver Broncos: 8-8
    at San Diego Chargers WIN (6-5)
    at Minnesota Vikings WIN (7-5)
    vs. Chicago Bears LOSS (7-6)
    vs. New England Patriots LOSS (7-7)
    at Buffalo Bills LOSS (7-8)
    vs. Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-8) 

    Playoff Seeding

    1. New England Patriots 13-3 AFC East Champs
    2. Houston Texans 13-3 AFC South Champs
    3. Baltimore Ravens 12-4 AFC North Champs
    4. Oakland Raiders 9-7 AFC West Champs
    5. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 Wild Card
    6. New York Jets 11-5 Wild Card

    Outside Looking In
    7. Cincinnati Bengals 9-7
    8. Buffalo Bills 9-7
    9. Denver Broncos 8-8
    10. Tennessee Titans 8-8

    Analysis
    In this scenario, the Bengals miss the playoffs by two games. The Jets easily wrap up the No. 6 seed with big wins against Philadelphia and the New York Giants down the stretch.

    A tough loss to Houston severely dampens the Bengals' playoff hopes. 

Allow for a Few Upsets

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    In this scenario, let's critically look at each team's schedule and allow for the one or two most likely upsets while still allowing for the best team to win the majority of the time.

    New England Patriots: 12-4
    vs. Kansas Chiefs WIN (7-3)
    at Philadelphia Eagles LOSS (7-4) - Road loss to Philadelphia added
    vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN (8-4)
    at Washington Redskins WIN (9-4)
    at Denver Broncos WIN (10-4)
    vs. Miami Dolphins WIN (11-4)
    vs. Buffalo Bills WIN (12-4)

    Buffalo Bills: 9-7
    at New York Jets WIN (6-5) - Road win against rival Jets added
    vs. Tennessee Titans WIN (7-5)
    at San Diego Chargers LOSS (7-6) - Cross country trip to San Diego loss added
    vs. Miami Dolphins WIN (8-6)
    vs. Denver Broncos WIN (9-6)
    at New England LOSS (9-7)

    New York Jets: 9-7
    vs. Buffalo Bills LOSS (5-6) - Loss to division rival added
    at Washington Redskins WIN (6-6)
    vs. Kansas City Chiefs WIN (7-6)
    at Philadelphia Eagles LOSS (7-7) - Road loss to Eagles added
    vs. New York Giants WIN (8-7)
    at Miami Dolphins WIN (9-7)

    Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
    vs. San Francisco 49ers WIN (8-3) - Home win against 49ers added
    at Cleveland Browns WIN (9-3)
    vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN (10-3)
    at San Diego Chargers WIN (11-3)
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (12-3)
    at Cincinnati Bengals Loss (12-4) - Road loss to division rival Bengals added

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4
    at Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-3)
    vs. Cincinnati Bengals WIN (9-3)
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (10-3)
    at San Francisco 49ers LOSS (10-4)
    vs. St. Louis Rams WIN (11-4)
    at Cleveland Browns WIN (12-4) 

    Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (7-4)
    at Pittsburgh Steelers LOSS (7-5)
    vs. Houston Texans WIN (8-5) - Home win against Texans added
    at St. Louis Rams WIN (9-5)
    vs. Arizona Cardinals WIN (10-5)
    vs. Baltimore Ravens WIN (11-5) - Home win against rival Ravens added

    Houston Texans 11-5
    at Jacksonville Jaguars WIN (8-3)
    vs. Atlanta Falcons LOSS (8-4) - Loss to tough Falcons team added
    at Cincinnati Bengals LOSS (8-5) - Road loss to Bengals added
    vs. Carolina Panthers WIN (9-5)
    at Indianapolis Colts WIN (10-5)
    vs. Tennessee Titans WIN (11-5)

    Tennessee Titans: 7-9
    vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers LOSS (5-6) - Loss to Buccaneers added
    at Buffalo Bills LOSS (5-7)
    vs. New Orleans Saints LOSS (5-8)
    at Indianapolis Colts WIN (6-8)
    vs. Jacksonville Jaguars WIN (7-8)
    at Houston Texas LOSS (7-9)

    Oakland Raiders: 7-9
    vs. Chicago Bears LOSS (6-5)
    at Miami Dolphins LOSS (6-6) - Loss on cross country trip to Miami added
    at Green Bay Packers LOSS (6-7)
    vs. Detroit Lions LOSS (6-8)
    at Kansas City Chiefs LOSS (6-9) - Loss at Arrowhead added
    vs. San Diego Chargers WIN (7-9) 

    Denver Broncos: 8-8
    at San Diego Chargers LOSS (5-6)
    at Minnesota Vikings WIN (6-6)
    vs. Chicago Bears WIN (7-6) - Home win to Cutler-less Bears added
    vs. New England Patriots LOSS (7-7)
    at Buffalo Bills LOSS (7-8)
    vs. Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-8) 

    Playoff Seeding

    1. New England Patriots 12-4 AFC East Champs
    2. Baltimore Ravens 12-4 AFC North Champs
    3. Houston Texans 11-5 AFC South Champs
    4. Denver Broncos 8-8 AFC West Champs
    5. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 Wild Card
    6. Cincinnati Bengals 11-5 Wild Card

    Outside Looking In
    7. Buffalo Bills 9-7
    8. New York Jets 9-7
    9. Oakland Raiders 7-9
    10. Tennessee Titans 7-9 

    Analysis
    The Bengals sneak into the Wild Card spot with a big win against Baltimore in the final week of the season coupled with two tough losses by the Jets against the Bills and Eagles. 

My Predictions

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    In my predictions, I'm going to take the last slide "Allow for a Few Upsets" and add in some important factors like history, coaching, roster depth, injuries and just bad luck.

    New England Patriots: 11-5
    vs. Kansas Chiefs LOSS (6-4) - Home loss to Scott Pioli led Chiefs added
    at Philadelphia Eagles LOSS (6-5)
    vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN (7-5)
    at Washington Redskins WIN (8-5)
    at Denver Broncos WIN (9-5)
    vs. Miami Dolphins WIN (10-5)
    vs. Buffalo Bills WIN (11-5)

    Buffalo Bills: 7-9
    at New York Jets LOSS (5-6) - Road loss to Jets added
    vs. Tennessee Titans WIN (6-6)
    at San Diego Chargers LOSS (6-7)
    vs. Miami Dolphins LOSS (6-8) - Loss to rival Dolphins added
    vs. Denver Broncos WIN (7-8)
    at New England LOSS (7-9)

    New York Jets: 10-6
    vs. Buffalo Bills WIN (6-5) - Home win against Bills added
    at Washington Redskins WIN (7-5)
    vs. Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-5)
    at Philadelphia Eagles LOSS (8-6)
    vs. New York Giants WIN (9-6)
    at Miami Dolphins WIN (10-6)

    Baltimore Ravens: 12-4
    vs. San Francisco 49ers WIN (8-3)
    at Cleveland Browns WIN (9-3)
    vs. Indianapolis Colts WIN (10-3)
    at San Diego Chargers WIN (11-3)
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (12-3)
    at Cincinnati Bengals Loss (12-4)

    Pittsburgh Steelers: 12-4
    at Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-3)
    vs. Cincinnati Bengals WIN (9-3)
    vs. Cleveland Browns WIN (10-3)
    at San Francisco 49ers LOSS (10-4)
    vs. St. Louis Rams WIN (11-4)
    at Cleveland Browns WIN (12-4) 

    Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7
    vs. Cleveland Browns LOSS (6-5) - Loss to rival Browns added
    at Pittsburgh Steelers LOSS (6-6)
    vs. Houston Texans WIN (7-6)
    at St. Louis Rams WIN (8-6)
    vs. Arizona Cardinals LOSS (8-7) - Loss to Larry Fitzgerald and Cardinals added
    vs. Baltimore Ravens WIN (9-7) 

    Houston Texans 10-6
    at Jacksonville Jaguars WIN (8-3)
    vs. Atlanta Falcons LOSS (8-4) 
    at Cincinnati Bengals LOSS (8-5) 
    vs. Carolina Panthers WIN (9-5)
    at Indianapolis Colts WIN (10-5)
    vs. Tennessee Titans WIN (10-6) - Loss to division rival added

    Tennessee Titans: 8-8
    vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers LOSS (5-6)
    at Buffalo Bills LOSS (5-7)
    vs. New Orleans Saints LOSS (5-8)
    at Indianapolis Colts WIN (6-8)
    vs. Jacksonville Jaguars WIN (7-8)
    at Houston Texas WIN (8-8) - Win against division rival added

    Oakland Raiders: 7-9
    vs. Chicago Bears LOSS (6-5)
    at Miami Dolphins LOSS (6-6)
    at Green Bay Packers LOSS (6-7)
    vs. Detroit Lions LOSS (6-8)
    at Kansas City Chiefs LOSS (6-9) - Loss at Arrowhead added
    vs. San Diego Chargers WIN (7-9) 

    Denver Broncos: 8-8
    at San Diego Chargers WIN (6-5) - Road win against struggling Chargers added
    at Minnesota Vikings LOSS (6-6) - Road loss to Vikings added
    vs. Chicago Bears WIN (7-6)
    vs. New England Patriots LOSS (7-7)
    at Buffalo Bills LOSS (7-8)
    vs. Kansas City Chiefs WIN (8-8) 

    Playoff Seeding

    1. Baltimore Ravens 12-4 AFC North Champs
    2. New England Patriots 11-5 AFC East Champs
    3. Houston Texans 10-6 AFC South Champs
    4. Denver Broncos 8-8 AFC West Champs
    5. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 Wild Card
    6. New York Jets 10-6 Wild Card

    Outside Looking In
    7. Cincinnati Bengals 9-7
    8. Tennessee Titans 8-8
    9. Oakland Raiders 7-9
    10. Buffalo Bills 7-9

    Analysis
    Bengals suffer a playoff-killing loss at home to the Cardinals.  The young Bengals team folds under the mounting pressure and Larry Fitzgerald exploits a Leon Hall-less secondary to secure the win for the Cardinals. 

Key Games to Watch

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    Week 12
    Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
    Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    Week 13
    Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans

    Week 14
    Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets
    Buffalo Bills vs. San Diego Chargers

    Week 15
    New York Jets vs. Philadelphia Eagles

    Week 16
    Denver Broncos vs. Buffalo Bills
    New York Giants vs. New York Jets

    Week 17
    New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
    Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
    Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
    Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
    San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders 

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