Here's a question for you, as we sit exactly two weeks away from the Cincinnati Bengals reporting for training camp: What is the franchise's record under coach Marvin Lewis in games played during Week 16?
If that isn't a random mid-July question then I don't know what is.
Why Week 16? Because that's the week the NFL playoff chase is arguably at its best, and it also happens to be a week that could go down as the most important for the Bengals this year as they chase a second straight division championship.
Here's Wednesday's Bengals factoid: 8.
Eight represents the number of wins the Bengals have amassed during the 11 Week 16 games they have played since Lewis took over as head coach in 2003, beating the the Giants, Chiefs, Browns (twice), Chargers, Cardinals, Steelers and Vikings. This year, they'll be meeting the defending AFC champion Broncos in Week 16 in a game that is anticipated to have big implications on the conference playoff chase.
The Bengals and Broncos will play at 8:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 22. The Monday night game will be broadcast by ESPN.
A week later, the challenge won't diminish any for Cincinnati, which ends the regular season at Pittsburgh. After going 8-8 and missing the playoffs last year, the Steelers are expected to contend for the AFC North title again this year. So this year's regular-season finale could help determine the division.
So why aren't we looking at the Week 17 results for this exercise? Primarily because it's hard to put too much stock into every Week 17 game. That typically is the week playoff-bound teams rest a large number of their starters. Unexpected losses can happen simply because the second-string unit is playing instead of the starters.
For the record, though, the Bengals are 5-6 under Lewis in Week 17. Three of the six losses came during years they reached the playoffs.
Back to the Week 16 results. Cincinnati's 8-3 record under Lewis also includes the seven-game Week 16 winning streak the Bengals are currently riding. Last year's 42-14 win over Minnesota most recently extended it.
What's interesting to note is that of the other three teams that have gone 8-3 or better in Week 16 since 2003, all have been to at least one Super Bowl in that time span. Along with the Bengals, the Bears and Steelers also have gone 8-3 during Week 16. The Patriots are a perfect 11-0.
While that may seem like a rather insignificant factoid, the Bengals' Week 16 results are but one way to see how well the franchise plays when a postseason berth is on the line. Excluding the two four-win seasons of 2008 and 2010 (the Bengals won in Week 16 both years), one could make an argument that the Bengals were still in the hunt entering their Week 16 games every other year under Lewis. By winning the six other times, they extended their hunt for another week or aided one of the four postseason runs.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.