The Bengals’ season finale at Pittsburgh next Sunday has been flexed into the primetime spot and will air on Sunday Night Football at 8:30 p.m.
Whichever team wins the game will win the AFC North and host a playoff game.
If the Bengals beat Denver on Monday Night Football, they will clinch at least a Wild-Card berth. But if they, lose they could be playing for their playoff life Sunday night. If Baltimore wins at home against Cleveland and San Diego wins at Kansas City on Sunday afternoon, the Bengals would need to beat Pittsburgh to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
If the Bengals beat the Broncos and the Steelers, they could still finish as high as the No. 2 seed and earn a first-round playoff bye. But they would need an Oakland win at Denver next Sunday for that to happen.
The Bengals are 2-6 in primetime games under Andy Dalton, including a 30-20 loss at Pittsburgh last December.
This will be the third time the Bengals have played the final game of the NFL regular season. They lost 37-0 on the road against the New York Jets in 2009 when the Bengals already had the division clinched and the Jets needed to win to get in.
In 1989, before the days of flex scheduling, the Bengals lost 29-21 at Minnesota on a Christmas night Monday Night Football contest. The Bengals, who were the defending AFC champions, would have made the playoffs with a victory. But the Vikings raced out to a 19-0 lead and held on to win the NFC North Division.