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NFL playoff picture: What does Bengals-Browns mean for AFC standings

The Cincinnati Bengals face the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland in Week 18. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) reacts with fans during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, 2022, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sunday early game Update: Cincinnati fell 21-16 to Cleveland on Sunday and that officially took the No. 2 seed off the board for them. The Bengals could still lock in the No. 3 seed with losses by both the Bills and Patriots this afternoon. If that doesn’t happen, then they’ll host one of those teams in the wild card round next weekend as the No. 4 seed.

The Cincinnati Bengals take on the Cleveland Browns at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio in Week 18. The Bengals will play without multiple key starters, including QB Joe Burrow, who is going to rest up for the postseason. As a result, the Browns are favored by 6 points on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Bengals playoff picture

The Bengals are 10-6 and are in third place in the AFC standings heading into the playoffs. Since Cincinnati has already opted to rest players, the Bengals may be sacrificing a shot at the 1-seed. If the Bengals pull off the win and the Chiefs and Titans both lose, Cincinnati would secure the top seed. It’s farfetched and unlikely but a possibility. That makes Week 18 pretty insignificant for the Bengals overall. It appears likely the Bengals will face either the Colts or Patriots in the first round.

Relevant Week 18 matchups

Chiefs (11-5) @ Broncos (7-9)
Titans (11-5) @ Texans (4-12)
Jets (4-12) @ Bills 10-6)
Patriots (10-6) @ Dolphins (8-8)