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Bengals Schedule Analysis Part IV: When The Schedule Could Promote Playoffs

For whatever reason, the Bengals fourth quarter schedule suddenly becomes exciting -- mostly because it's the easiest portion of their season. Will Cincinnati survive the AFC North gauntlet with a winning record, positioning themselves with a playoff berth? If that's the case, the final four games of the schedule makes that suddenly realistic with the best-possible scenario in the history of best-possible scenarios. Along with the Bengals facing the Texans, Rams and Cardinals during the season's fourth quarter, they play three of the final four games at home.

Obviously that all depends on how the Bengals play their first 12 games. If we can hope for, maybe, a 7-5 record by this point in the season, the Bengals could clean up the season with three wins, if not four, considering the Bengals will host the Ravens in the final game of the season.

If the Bengals are long out of the playoffs by this point, then it's still not all bad. By winning three games, if they can, to close the season, it gives the team positive momentum, much like they had after the 2008 season transitioning into a playoff team the following year.

Are we naive optimists or what?

WEEK 14 (December 11) - TEXANS AT BENGALS

The Bengals will conclude the AFC South portion of their schedule, hosting the Texans on December 11. The Bengals have lost their previous two meetings against the Texans, both by more than two scores.

However, the Bengals are 2-1 at home against the Texans and 3-2 all-time.

WEEK 15 (December 18) - BENGALS AT RAMS

Cincinnati leads the all-time series against the St. Louis Rams, which included a 5-2 record in the series' first seven games. However, the Bengals have lost three of their past four against the Rams.

The Bengals have never beaten the Rams in St. Louis, though they've only played twice there. When the Rams were in Los Angeles, the Bengals won two of three games.

The last meeting between both team occurred in 2007 with a Bengals 19-10 win in Cincinnati.

WEEK 16 (December 24) - CARDINALS AT BENGALS

Like against the Texans and Rams, the Bengals have an all-time winning record against the Arizona Cardinals, winning five of the nine meetings between the two franchises.

But like the meetings against the Rams and Texans, the Bengals haven't enjoyed recent success, losing the previous two games.

The Bengals' 24-13 win in 2000 is the last time the Bengals beat the Cardinals.

WEEK 17 (January 1) - RAVENS AT BENGALS

The Bengals conclude their AFC North schedule in the final regular season game of the year -- but hopefully not final game of the year. Am I right? The Bengals have won two straight against the Ravens in games played in Cincinnati.

If the Bengals position themselves for a playoff spot, this game could be the most important of the season. Actually, that's kind of obvious. I mean, if a win determines if you make the playoffs or not, that would be probably be considered the most important game of the year. But I digress.

During the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals are 6-2 against the Ravens in games played in Baltimore.