Bengals Featured In Several High-Interest Games During Second Half Of The Season

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals gives instructions to his team during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bengals won 24-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The "easy schedule" argument so many detractors use will eventually fade as Cincinnati's second-half schedule will feature five division games, four against two teams that the league routinely favors for bogus preseason prognostication. As the Bengals have clearly shocked even the living dead pillaging the streets in pursuit of Rick's family, people are starting to take notice of the Bengals. ESPN especially, who ran a segment on Andy Dalton's first eight games through the eyes of Jon Gruden. Most major publications have the Bengals ranked in the top ten in respects to their power rankings, which is shocking considering they were late 20s to dead last not two months ago.

That being said, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks lists his top 25 games during the second half of the NFL season; four of which are Bengals games.

Week 10:

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati -- Clearly it's a glamour-filled Week 10 in the NFL, with one-fifth of our marquee games falling on the same weekend. But we can't overlook this matchup, because it's the Bengals' first chance to test themselves against the elite tier in the AFC North. These two meet again in just three short weeks, in Pittsburgh, but we're about to find out if surprising Cincinnati is ready for its close-up.

Week 11:

Cincinnati at Baltimore -- Having gotten their shot at the Steelers in Week 10, the Bengals get their first chance to face Baltimore, a team they have played very tough in recent years and match up well with. Cincinnati has won three out of the last four in the series, and lost narrowly in the fourth. Who knows, the winner might be able to head into the Week 17 rematch in Cincinnati with the inside track on the division crown.

Week 14:

Houston at Cincinnati -- Back in the day, when they shared a spot in the raucous old AFC Central, Houston and Cincinnati used to play some classic games, filled with bad blood and over-the-top emotions. Those were of course the Oilers of Jerry Glanville vs. the Bengals of Sam Wyche for the most part, but we can dream. The Texans and Bengals should both need this one to keep their playoff drives on track.

Week 17:

Baltimore at Cincinnati -- Conventional wisdom says the Bengals won't still be playoff viable once they run the gauntlet of playing both Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each in the season's final eight weeks, and maybe that will prove to be the reality. But who ever dreamed Cincinnati, starting a rookie quarterback, would reach midseason at 6-2, so how can you possibly rule the Bengals out?

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