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NFL playoff picture: What does Bengals-Broncos mean for AFC/NFC standings

The Bengals face the Broncos in Denver on Sunday. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view after the Denver Broncos scored a touchdown during a game between the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High on December 12, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 7-6 Denver Broncos host the 7-6 Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15 and while it’s not an elimination game, both teams desperately need a win if they want to remain firmly in the thick of the playoff race. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. ET and the game will air on CBS. The Broncos are a field goal favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Divisional outlook

The Bengals are tied for second in the AFC North with the Browns, with both teams a game back of the first place Ravens and half a game up on the last place Steelers. Cleveland currently holds the tiebreaker edge on Cincinnati having won their first head-to-head matchup. They play in Cleveland in Week 18.

The Broncos are in third place in the AFC West, a half game back of the Chargers and 2.5 games back of the Chiefs. The last place Raiders are a game back of Denver. The Broncos have a win over LA and losses to KC and Las Vegas in their first round of head-to-head divisional games.

Wild card outlook

The Bengals and Broncos are currently ninth and tenth, respectively, in the overall AFC standings. They are tied with the Bills and Browns for the final wild card berth. Buffalo holds the conference record tiebreaker of the Browns and Broncos. Cleveland holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cincinnati. The Bengals in turn hold the conference record tiebreaker over Denver.

Relevant Week 15 matchups

Chiefs 34, Chargers 28
Colts 27, Patriots 17
Panthers (5-8) @ Bills (7-6)
Jets (3-10) @ Dolphins (6-7)
Titans (9-4) @ Steelers (6-6-1)
Packers (10-3) @ Ravens (8-5)
Raiders (6-7) @ Browns (7-6)