CINCINNATI - You don't have to tell Bengals coach Marvin Lewis what these final two weeks of the season are all about.
“We’ve got a lot on the line,” Lewis said Tuesday while surveying the playoff landscape.
The Bengals (9-5) could finish this season as high as the No. 2 seed in the AFC or completely out of the post-season. That's the fallout after Sunday's beat-down in Pittsburgh.
But Lewis wasn't panicking.
“We’ve got to do exactly the same thing I told you last Wednesday, and that's win the games. And we didn't win one. So we gotta win the next two,” Lewis said.
It’s simple: if the Bengals win their last two games, they’re division champs.
First up are the Vikings (4-9-1) this Sunday, then the Ravens (8-6), who beat the Lions Monday night on a 61-yard field goal.
The good news is: Both are home games.
The bad news is: If they Bengals don’t win out, the Ravens can steal the division title and the Dolphins can beat them out for the second wild-card.
There are two clinching scenarios for the Bengals on Sunday:
The Bengals win the division if:
1) They beat the Vikings and the Ravens tie or lose at home to the Patriots; OR
2) They tie the Vikings and the Ravens lose.
The Bengals clinch the second wild-card if:
1) They beat the Vikings and the Dolphins lose or tie at the Bills; OR
2) They tie the Vikings and the Dolphins lose.
The Bengals can overtake the Patriots in the race for No. 2 seed if the Bengals win and the Patriots lose.
For a team with its playoff hopes teetering, the biggest question going forward is at punting. Kevin Huber was detonated by a block on a punt return Sunday night and has been knocked out for the season. Lewis did not want to get into whether or not it was a legal hit.
“It doesn't really matter what I think,” Lewis said. “I think there's been enough talk about it. There's nothing I can do to transpire any differently now. So we just need to move on.”
To do that may require the Bengals to win out.