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NFL playoff picture: What does Bengals-Patriots mean for AFC standings

The Bengals face the Patriots in Foxboro on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view during the second half between the New York Jets and New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Results update: The Bengals already have their playoff ticket punched, but after beating the Patriots 22-18 they stay a game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North. Their win also gives the Ravens a spot in the playoffs after they beat the falcons.

The Patriots drop to 7-8 and have been leapfrogged by the Jaguars in the Wild Card race. They will need a lot of help moving forward to grab a playoff berth.


The Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots face off on Christmas Eve at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro with plenty on the line. With three weeks remaining, the Bengals are competing for high seeding while the Patriots are just trying to claim a playoff berth. The Patriots are a field goal home underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Bengals playoff picture

Cincinnati is 10-4 and has a one-game lead on the Ravens for first place in the AFC North. They clinched a playoff berth on Thursday when the Jets lost and now will work further toward a division title. Cincinnati cannot clinch the division this week, but with a win and a Ravens loss could be in position to clinch it next week. Otherwise, it could come down to a Week 18 home game against the Ravens.

The Bengals are in third place overall, a game back of the Bills and Chiefs. Cincinnati beat Kansas City earlier this year and faces Buffalo in Week 17. They have a chance to climb as high as the No. 1 seed with a win. If they lose and the Ravens win, Cincinnati would slip to the No. 5 seed.

Patriots playoff picture

New England is 7-7 and in eighth place in the overall AFC standings. They are a game back of the Chargers and Dolphins for the final wild card berths. The Dolphins won the season-opener between them and they face off again in Week 17.

If the Patriots win, they could climb as high as seventh place if the Chargers lose. They cannot pass Miami due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the Patriots lose, they would drop into a tie with the Jaguars and Jets, and potentially the Browns and either the Raiders or Steelers. The Jaguars would have the tiebreaker edge over them.

Tiebreaker implications

This will implicate conference record and common games tiebreakers for the wild card race.