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Carson Palmer admits facing Bengals is significant

Carson Palmer gets to host his old Bengals team in Week 11 under the bright lights.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest game of Week 11 will feature the Arizona Cardinals playing host to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday Night Football.

Not only is this a matchup of two teams looking like Super Bowl contenders, this is also just the second time in the regular season that Carson Palmer will have faced his old team. Palmer hasn't faced the Bengals in the regular season since 2012 when he was still in Oakland, though he did face Cincinnati in the 2014 preseason while with Arizona.

Most players in this kind of situation would publicly brush it off and pretend it's not a big deal, but Palmer isn't hiding his feelings.

"Any time you play a team where you spent some time, especially for as much time as I spent there." Palmer said of facing Cincinnati, via Local 12, "It's not just another game."

After being drafted No. 1 overall out of USC in the 2003 NFL Draft, Palmer went on to play in Cincinnati for eight seasons before demanding a trade following a 2010 season that saw the Bengals go 4-12. That marked the sixth time in his eight years with the Bengals he endured a non-winning season.

Palmer simply didn't think he was ever going to reach his highest goals with the Bengals' franchise, so he wanted a shot at reaching them somewhere else. He fought hard with owner Mike Brown to get out of Cincinnati, and though it took some time, Brown eventually relented after the 2011 season began.

"I'm not going to get into a `he said, she said' situation with Mike Brown," Palmer said. "We obviously disagreed, and it ended in a very colorful, heated argument."

Palmer admits that some day he will talk about what went on between him and Brown, but his focus right now is his team's Week 11 matchup with the Bengals.

"Not in Week 11," Palmer said. "Myself and this team are focused on Week 11, not 2011."

While Palmer was focused on winning and managed to get out of Cincinnati, his time to shine certainly didn't happen when he was traded to the Oakland Raiders, one of the NFL' bottom-feeder franchises at the time. During a two year span, Palmer endured an 8-16 record as Oakland's starting quarterback, but salvation for his career would finally come in 2013.

In 2013, the Arizona Cardinals sent a late-round pick to the Raiders for Palmer, who has since helped lead the Cards to two winning seasons and likely a third this season. That's pretty impressive for the Cardinals when you realize this franchise hasn't had three-straight winning seasons since 1974-76 when they were the St. Louis Cardinals.

Though he's experienced as many winning seasons in Arizona as he did his entire career in Cincinnati, Palmer still says he has  "very positive" memories of playing with the Bengals.

"A lot of great relationships, a lot of fun times," Palmer said. "I'm a glass-half-full type with the way I look at things and I think of all the positive things."

While the way it ended certainly wasn't ideal, it's safe to say the Bengals and Cardinals are better off thanks to Palmer's forced exit from Cincinnati. Since then, the Bengals have gone to four straight playoffs, are in the midst of another likely playoff season and have the NFL's third-best record at 8-1.

As for the Cardinals, they're tied for the league's fourth-best record at 7-2 and have a stranglehold on the NFC West. While the Bengals vs Palmer storyline is what everyone is focusing on, this is also a matchup of two title contenders who hope to be playing in the NFL's biggest game come February.