The Steelers throttled the Bengals30-20 on Sunday night, buoyed by two huge early special teams miscues by Cincinnati. Bengals punter Kevin Huber fumbled a snap before getting tackled at the 1-yard line after one series, and Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown later in the first quarter.
Now 9-5, the Bengals are stuck back in the No. 3 slot in the AFC playoff picture. They blew a great chance to earn a bye, and have given the Baltimore Ravens a chance to win the AFC North. The Ravens can win the division if they manage to win their final three games despite a very challenging schedule. Baltimore and Cincinnati face off in Week 17.
A playoff bye and a potential home game in the divisional playoff round would be huge for the Bengals because they are a different team on the road. They finished their road schedule on Sunday night with a 3-5 record. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, kept its faint playoff hopes alive to get to 6-8.
Cincinnati's great defense has been ravaged by injuries. There's no reason to think it will start suddenly playing better on the road once the playoffs start.