The Cincinnati Bengals helped themselves immensely in the playoff picture by beating the Denver Broncos (7-7) on Sunday afternoon. Following the win and the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) losing to the Green Bay Packers (11-3), the Bengals are in first place of the AFC North.
Bengals vs. Broncos: What was most impressive about the Cincinnati defense
With three games to play, the Bengals control their destiny. A lot can change over the next three weeks but it appears the easiest way for the Bengals to make the playoffs is by winning the division. That's not to say if they don't win the AFC North they can't make it in as one of the three wild card spots. It just gets more complicated if that's the case due to overall record and tiebreakers.
Here's a look at the current AFC playoff picture following the Week 15 slate of games
1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4), first place, AFC West
2. New England Patriots (9-5), first place, AFC East
3. Tennessee Titans (9-5), first place, AFC South
4. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6), first place, AFC North
5. Indianapolis Colts (8-6), second place, AFC South
6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6), second place, AFC West
7. Buffalo Bills (8-6), second place, AFC East
In the hunt:
Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1)
Cleveland Browns (7-6)
Las Vegas Raiders (7-7)
The Bengals three remaining games are against the following:
Week 16: Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 17: Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 18: Bengals at Cleveland Browns
The Bengals get the opportunity of playing two of their final three games at Paul Brown Stadium. If Cincinnati wins two out of their next three games, they'll make the postseason for the first time since 2015.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: AFC Playoff Picture: Cincinnati Bengals back in after NFL Week 15 win