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A little help

With six games left, the Bengals need a little help.

But not all that much if they take care of their own business in their bid to secure the AFC's sixth and final playoff spot that looks more and more like it is going to come down to their record in the conference.

And if they can survive this stretch, the Bengals can look forward to playing an easier schedule next season than this year's hardest in the NFL.

Only two teams fighting for the same spot, the Jaguars and Chiefs at 6-4, have a better record than the 5-5 Bengals. If it finishes tied with Kansas City, Cincinnati would go based on its head-to-head win against the Chiefs on Opening Day. Since the Bengals don't play Jacksonville, it comes down to conference record and both are at 3-3.

The same goes with the 5-5 Jets and their 4-4 record in the AFC.

All six of Cincinnati's games are in the AFC against teams with a combined record of 33-27 with the tough nuts being games at the 9-1 Colts and 7-3 Broncos.

The Jags also have to play the Colts and although it's at home, their six remaining AFC opponents are also a combined 33-27. The Jets have it much easier with four AFC games left against clubs that are 12-27, none have a winning record, and the only one on the road is Christmas Night against the 4-6 Dolphins.

It shouldn't be as hard as next season if you take a peek. The Bengals are looking at playing a combined sub-.500 schedule that is currently at 79-81. That same percentage would give them the 10th easiest schedule in the NFL next season if the projections hold up, compared to the grueling .543 they are playing this season.

All but two of the foes are known. The projected two wild card teams are that Jacksonville team they can't seem to shake, and Denver. But that would only hold up if all three finish second in their divisions.

The 2007 road games feature a tilt at 6-4 Seattle, but also games at the 4-6 Bills and Dolphins and the .500 49ers. The 7-3 Patriots and 5-5 Jets lead the home sked.

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