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How can Bengals improve their playoff standing and force neutral site AFC title game in Week 18?

The Bengals are the AFC North champs, but can still maneuver in the playoff picture in Week 18.. We break down how they can improve their position in the 2023 NFL Playoffs.

Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates his touchdown reception against the Buffalo Bills with Joe Mixon #28 and Ted Karras #64 during the first quarter at Paycor Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Results update: The Chiefs beat the Raiders on Saturday, which doesn’t affect their playoff seeding chances, but it does mean they would play in Kansas City if they end up getting to the AFC Championship game. No AFC Championship involving the Bengals would be at a neutral site.

With a Bengals win and a Bills win on Sunday, Cincinnati is now locked into the No. 3 seed. They will rematch with the Ravens for the third time this season in the Wild Card round. The Bengals will host.

The Cincinnati Bengals are the 2022-23 AFC North champions and are going to be either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the 2023 NFL Playoffs. While they cannot secure the No. 1 seed, they have plenty to gain in Week 18 and thus will be sending out their starters when they kick off against the Baltimore Ravens at 1 p.m. ET.

The Bengals enter the game as the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff standings, with the Buffalo Bills at No. 2 and the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1. If the Bengals beat the Ravens and the Bills lose to the Patriots, they would finish tied with a 12-4 record. The team’s head-to-head game in Week 17 was canceled, which moves us down the tiebreaker list. With a Bengals win and Bills loss, they would finish the season tied in the conference record tiebreaker and the record in common games tiebreaker. That moves them to the strength of victory tiebreaker. That will be determined by Sunday’s results for all the opponents the Bengals and Bills beat. If that finishes tied, they would move on to strength of overall schedule.

The cancellation of the Week 17 Bengals-Bills game has resulted in some one-time changes to the playoffs. If the Bengals lose to the Ravens and the Chargers beat the Broncos in Week 18, the Bengals and Ravens would face off in the Wild Card round next week. The NFL decided that since Baltimore would have beaten Cincinnati twice but lost their chance at winning the division, home field in that game would be decided by a coin flip. A Bengals win would remove that from consideration.

Additionally, there are AFC title game implications. If the Bengals win and the Bills and Chiefs both lose in Week 18 and the Bengals face the Chiefs in the AFC title game, the game would be played on a neutral site.