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What the Bengals win over the Vikings in Week 15 means for NFL playoff picture

The Bengals stunned the Vikings late and it is shaking up both the AFC and NFC playoff pictures.

Tee Higgins #5 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches the ball for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Paycor Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals kicked off the NFL’s Week 15 Saturday slate with a 27-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings controlled much of the game, but a ridiculous Tee Higgins touchdown forced overtime and Cincinnati somehow outlasted Minnesota. Jake Browning threw for 324 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Higgins finished the day with two touchdowns.

The Bengals improved to 8-6 with the win and will climb in the playoff standings. They’re guaranteed to move ahead of the loser of Saturday’s Steelers-Colts game. They entered the day in tenth place overall, tied with the Steelers, Colts, Texans, Broncos, and Bills in the AFC wild card standings. They could move as high as seventh place depending on the rest of the weekend’s results. If the Ravens beat the Jaguars on Sunday, the Bengals will be officially eliminated from AFC North contention.

The Vikings dropped to 7-7 with the loss. They remain in NFC North contention, but will drop to three back of the Lions if Detroit beats the Denver on Saturday evening. They entered the day in sixth place, a game up on the Packers, Rams, Seahawks, Falcons, and Saints. They could drop behind the Rams and/or Seahawks if either wins, but would remain ahead of the Packers, Falcons, and Saints thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Next week, the Bengals will travel to face the Steelers with a chance to further firm up their playoff position. The Vikings host the Lions desperately needing a win to remain alive in the NFC North race.