The final spot in the AFC playoff picture is still wide open to this point of the NFL season. However, if the Cincinnati Bengals fall to the San Diego Chargers today, things are going to get a lot more clustered than they already are.
As of now, there are still five teams in the running for the last wildcard spot in the AFC. Two of those teams happen to be the Chargers and Baltimore Ravens. In order for the Chargers to maintain ground with Baltimore, San Diego needs to defeat the Ravens’ AFC North divisional mate, Cincinnati. By doing that, it will then open up a race for the AFC North crown and not just a race for the final wildcard spot in the AFC.
With early season struggles from Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati looked like they could very well run away with the AFC North. After the Ravens disposed of the Steelers on Thanksgiving to move back to .500, Baltimore continues cutting into the Bengals’ division lead and after today, the Ravens may be just one game back of Cincinnati.
The Bengals have their back up against a wall right now. Philip Rivers is playing great football and has the ability to lead the Chargers to the final wildcard spot in the AFC. Not only does Andy Dalton need to out play Rivers to give the Bengals a fighting chance today, but with a loss, Dalton then opens up a fight with the Ravens that may not be settled until Week 17 in Cincinnati.
With a victory today, the Bengals could very well not only dispose of the Chargers in the AFC playoff picture, but keep a comfortable two-game lead over the defending Super Bowl champions. With a loss today, not only do new doors open in the AFC, but the Bengals may slowly be making their way from AFC North champions to the outside looking in when it comes postseason time.
Michael Pidgeon is a Los Angeles Dodgers writer for Rant Sports.com: “Like” him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter @1AndOnlyPidgeon, add him to your network on Google or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org