Wild Card Update

Posted: 4:20 a.m.

A win would be nice for the Bengals Monday night in Indianapolis, but a win in Denver six days later would be even nicer.

Even with a loss to the Colts, a Christmas Eve victory over Denver assures the Bengals they would get into the six-team AFC playoffs over the Broncos. The win would hypothetically give the Bengals nine wins and deny Denver its ninth win. And if they finish with the same record, the Bengals go because they beat Denver head-to-head.

And, at the moment, Denver is the sixth seed because its 7-4 conference record is better than the 5-5 of the Jaguars and Jets.

Of course, a victory over the Colts would be huge because that would keep the 9-5 Bengals a game ahead of the 8-6 Broncos, Jaguars and Jets, and keep them as the fifth seed heading into the last two games. Plus, they would jump to 7-3 in the AFC, giving them a two-game lead over the Jags and Jets with two to play in the first tiebreaker between teams that don't play each other.

If the Bengals also fall to 8-6, Denver would be the fifth seed based on its 7-4 AFC record and Cincinnati would be the sixth seed with just a one-game AFC lead over the Jets and Jags.

Then the Bengals would involve themselves in the four-team scrum at 7-7. Only Cleveland, Houston and Oakland have been eliminated from the playoffs.

Baltimore needs a Cincinnati loss or tie to clinch the AFC North, or it has to wait to beat Pittsburgh next week.

WILD CARD AT A GLANCE:

**Bengals (8-5 overall, 6-3 in AFC, 4-3 at home, 4-2 on road)

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Dec. 18 at Indianapolis (10-3 overall, 7-2 in AFC, 6-0 at home)

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Dec. 24 at Denver (8-6 overall, 7-4 in AFC, 3-3 at home)

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Dec. 31 Pittsburgh (7-7 overall, 4-6 in AFC, 2-5 on road) FOES: 25-16**

Denver (8-6 overall, 7-4 in AFC, 3-3 at home, 5-3 on road)

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Dec. 24 Cincinnati (8-5, 6-3 in AFC, 4-2 on road)

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Dec. 31 San Francisco (6-8, 2-5 on road)

FOES: 14-13

Jets (8-6 overall, 5-5 in AFC, 3-4 at home, 5-2 on road)

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Dec. 25 at Miami (6-8, 3-7 in AFC, 4-3 at home)

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Dec. 31 Raiders (2-12, 1-9 in AFC, 0-7 on road)

FOES: 8-20

Jacksonville (8-6 overall, 5-5 in AFC, 6-1 at home, 2-5 on road

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Dec. 24 New England (10-4, 6-4 in AFC, 5-1 on road)

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Dec. 31 at Kansas City (7-7, 3-7 in AFC, 5-2 at home)

FOES: 17-11

Kansas City (7-7 overall, 3-7 in AFC, 5-2 at home, 2-5 on road)

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Dec. 23 at Oakland (2-12 overall, 1-9 in AFC, 2-5 at home)

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Dec. 31 Jacksonville (8-6 overall, 5-5 in AFC, 2-5 on road)

FOES: 10-18

Pittsburgh (7-7 overall, 4-6 in AFC, 5-2 at home, 2-5 on road)

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Dec. 24 Baltimore (11-3 overall, 8-2 in AFC, 5-2 on road)

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Dec. 31 at Cincinnati (8-5 overall, 6-3 in AFC, 4-3 at home)

FOES: 19-8

Buffalo (7-7 overall, 5-5 in AFC, 4-3 at home, 3-4 on road)

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Dec. 24 Tennessee (7-7 overall, 4-6 in AFC, 3-4 on road)

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Dec. 31 at Baltimore (11-3 overall, 8-2 in AFC, 6-1 at home)

FOES: 18-10

Tennessee (7-7 overall, 4-6 in AFC, 4-3 at home, 3-4 on road)

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Dec. 24 at Buffalo (7-7 overall, 5-5 in AFC, 4-3 at home)

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Dec. 31 New England (10-4 overall, 6-4 in AFC, 5-1 on road)

FOES: 17-11

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