How likely is a Playoff Berth This Year?
In a week that the Bengals didn't even play in, it was a positive one. The Ravens and Steelers squared off today and Baltimore came out on top. Now Baltimore and Pittsburgh are both sitting at first in the AFC North with 4-4 records, with the Bengals just half a game back with a 3-4-1 record.
With 8 games left, including 2 against Baltimore and 1 against Pittsburgh, the Bengals remain in control of their destiny and a 6th straight trip to the playoffs does not seem like a fantasy anymore. With A.J. Green playing the way he has been, the running game picking up the last few weeks, and the return of Tyler Eifert, the Bengals offense certainly looks good enough to will this team to a shot at the postseason. The clear issue with this team lies on the defensive side of the ball. Last week they gave up over 400 yards to Kirk Cousins, which was the best game of his career.
Obviously, this team still has holes to fill and is a flawed team and making the playoffs won't be easy. Having said that, the odds of them making the playoffs is a lot more likely now than it was a month ago. A month ago the Ravens were 3-0 and the Steelers were looking virtually unstoppable. Now, Baltimore is 4-4 and the Steelers are on a 3 game losing streak.
With 3 primetime games and all but 1 game against a team with a .500 or better record, the Bengals face a tough road, but if we've learned anything from the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green era, it's that the playoffs are an expectation, not a fantasy. And until they don't reach the playoffs, these expectations are not wrong to have.