Ah, Thanksgiving. The time of year when NFL fan bases do one of two things: their path to the playoffs or tryout drafts. At the moment, Bengals fans are more focused on the former as they are currently ranked seventh in the AFC. This will of course fluctuate over the next few weeks, but there is also a path to the AFC North crown and a guaranteed playoff home game, which is exactly what we are going to focus on.
Looking for a way to the top…
Bengals seem to preparing for the return of Ja’Marr Chase, which is very helpful. While Ty Higgins and Tyler Boyd performed well in his absence, Chase has another level that the other two just can’t reach. defender Joe Barrow seems relatively certain that Chase this weekend.
If so, that means Chase will be available – barring any mishaps – against the Chiefs. There aren’t many teams in the NFL with the offensive firepower to keep up with Kansas City, but with Jamarr Chase, the Bengals are one of them.
So how does this lead to potential divisional leadership? The Bengals have seven games left against teams with an aggregate score of 43-27. They are up against one team with a losing record (Cleveland), another with a .500 (Tampa Bay), and in addition, all of their future rivals have winning records, including all four division leaders in the AFC.
For the Ravens, their remaining schedule is much more forgiving as they only face one team with a winning record: the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens also get the Jaguars, twice the Steelers, the Browns, the Broncos and the Falcons, while they currently have a one-game lead over Cincinnati as well as a tiebreak.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Bengals won the last game against the Ravens to even the score. That means the Ravens will have to lose all three division games, or a combination of four of the remaining six, to finish the season 9-7. The best the Bengals can finish in the division is 3-3 while Baltimore is now 2-0. At best, Bengals fans would need Baltimore to finish 3–3 in the division to eliminate this tiebreak.
On top of all that, the Bengals needed to win four of their remaining seven games to reach 10-6 and take a one-game lead. So you’re watching home games against the Chiefs, Browns, Bills, and Ravens. Let’s say they split 2-2, including a win over the Ravens. Now you need two out of three on the road against the Titans, Bucks and Patriots. For now, their two strongest opponents on the road will be the Patriots and Buccaneers.
Their path to division victory means defeating the Browns and Ravens at home, which is certainly achievable. Then two out of three on the road. Plus it’s very affordable. However, this means that Bengals fans should also become huge fans of the Steelers – twice – and the Browns over the next seven weeks. Then find at least one more loss between the Broncos, Jaguars, or Falcons.
Of course, this is not an easy task, but the NFL is unpredictable this season, so anything is possible.
… But let’s take a moment
Considering it’s Thanksgiving, let’s take a break from football for a moment. At this point in our lives, it’s easy to overlook the little things in an effort to take your mind off the stresses of everyday life. Whatever stress is, many of us take it for granted.
Take a moment today and think about the blessings you have. Whether it’s family, good friends, your job, a roof over your head, it’s all there.
To get personal, this is the third holiday in a row where I’ll be thinking about someone dear that I lost last year. This time it was two people for a month; a close friend and woman I looked up to as a second mother for most of my life, both of whom I lost to cancer over the summer.
So many times we always think to ourselves, “Oh, I’ll mention this the next time I see them” or “It doesn’t really matter if I don’t go to this meeting, I’ll just get to the next one.” “, never knowing when the last one will be.
So take a look around and thank those around you. Hug your spouse or kids tighter, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, share the holiday spirit with everyone you’ve saved for “next time” because while any time is right, this is especially the season when you should dive in with head into the spirit of the season and make sure you get to that “next time”.
I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, wish you all a great holiday with friends and families, and I hope that for each of you it will be the best.
Back-to-back playoff rematches for the Bengalis who have been successful and look like the defending AFC champions they are.
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