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.