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A Clinching Sunday For Marvin Lewis, Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer

Bengals clinch AFC North. Redskins clinch NFC East. Vikings clinch playoff berth.

Three cheers for the Bengals' coaching staffs of 2011-13.

That group's top three men -- head coach Marvin Lewis, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden -- clinched divisional championships and playoff berths Sunday with their respective teams during a wild slate of NFL games.

The Bengals (11-3) clinched their second AFC North Division title in three years even without playing. Staying in a Denver hotel while awaiting their Monday Night Football showdown against the Broncos, the Bengals watched Sunday's events unfold in their favor, first when Pittsburgh lost 20-17 to Baltimore.

New England's overtime loss to the New York Jets kept the Bengals alive for the AFC playoffs' No. 1 seed, which they can earn with two wins, and a Patriots loss the final week. A New England win next week at Miami clinches the top seed for the Patriots.

The Bengals have clinched at least a wild card playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium. A Monday win in Denver clinches a first-round bye and passage into the divisional round, Jan. 16-17.

Gruden's Washington Redskins have captured the division nobody seemed to want to win, taking the NFC East title Sunday with a 38-24 win at Philadelphia. It's the Redskins' first division title since 2012. Washington (8-7) is in its second season under Gruden. He was the Bengals' OC from 2011-13 before taking the Redskins' head-coaching job.

Zimmer guided the Minnesota Vikings (10-5) to their first playoff berth in four years with a 49-17 win over the New York Giants. The Vikings can clinch their first NFC North crown in six years next week with a win at Green Bay. Zimmer was Cincinnati DC from 2008-13. He's in his second season as Vikings head coach.


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