Bengals clinch second straight playoff bid following Jets’ loss to Jaguars

It’s not yet Christmas Eve nor kickoff for the Cincinnati Bengals, but they’ve already been bestowed a gift that will keep on giving through mid-January.

The Bengals clinched a playoff berth on Thursday night thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defeat of the New York Jets.

With the Jets’ loss, the Bengals (10-4) punched their postseason ticket two days before their Week 16 game against the host New England Patriots on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

A season after advancing to the Super Bowl, the reigning AFC champions are back in the dance. It marks the first time Cincinnati has booked back-to-back trips to the playoffs since advancing to five consecutive postseasons between 2011-2015.

Having sparked concern about being a one-season wonder following their 0-2 start to the season, the Bengals rebounded and are now one of the hottest teams in the NFL, having won six straight heading into Saturday. Cincinnati’s emergence from its 0-2 hole is hardly commonplace, as teams that started their season in said fashion have made the playoffs just 11.3% of the time entering 2022. Not since the 2018 Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans has a team that began the year 0-2 made the playoffs.

Cincinnati’s Christmas Eve clash with the Patriots still has playoff implications aplenty, however.

The Bengals will look to take a step closer to clinching back-to-back AFC North titles, while the Patriots will aim to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, a New England loss — coupled with the Jets’ setback Thursday — would usher the Baltimore Ravens into the playoffs and is needed for a potential Los Angeles Chargers clinch on Monday.

For now, though, the Jaguars’ win is cause for Bengals celebration.

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