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NFL playoff picture: Who to root for in Week 17 if you are a Cincinnati Bengals fan

Week 17 is here and the Cincinnati Bengals are outside the AFC playoff picture. Who should Cincinnati fans root for to help their chances?

Jake Browning #6 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks off the field after throwing an interception during the fourth quarter of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on December 23, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are still alive in the AFC playoff picture, but they do not control their own destiny. They can help themselves with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs but need help from other teams. If you are a Bengals fan, you’ll have a few games you’ll be paying attention to as they look to improve their chances of a playoff berth.

Result: The Bengals lost to the Chiefs and that coupled with the Steelers and Bills winning eliminates Cincinnati from playoff contention.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

Someone has to win the AFC South, but heading into Week 17 three of the teams are all tied with an 8-7 record. Jacksonville currently holds the head-to-head over both Indy and Houston, with the Colts owning the tiebreaker over Houston. For now, it is super easy for Cincinnati as they could use all three of the Jags, Colts and Texans taking a loss this week. The Colts and Texans play next week, so Cincinnati could use a loss from them both this week so that only one of them adds to their win total the rest of the way.

Result: Jacksonville defeated Carolina 26-0, Indianapolis defeated Las Vegas 23-20, and Houston defeated Tennessee 26-3. None of these results helped Cincinnati in its postseason chances.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Result: The Steelers beat the Seahawks.

Pittsburgh secured the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati in Week 16. The Steelers are still clinging to a playoff hope, but it gets significantly more difficult with a loss to the Seahawks this week. Pittsburgh would then have to beat the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18 to have a chance at the playoffs while also needing help from the AFC South teams above.

The Seahawks are 3.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots

The Patriots just pulled off the upset over the Denver Broncos last week and now will look to take that momentum into a game against Buffalo. This game screams trap for the Bills, and a loss would help Cincinnati’s chances. Buffalo would then have to play the Miami Dolphins in Week 18 and a loss in that game could be what helps to get Cincinnati into the playoffs.

Result: Buffalo defeated New England 27-21. Another result that didn’t necessarily help Cincy.