Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Week 13 at San Diego Chargers
Bengals/Chargers has proved to be an interesting matchup in recent years with a win apiece in their two meetings in 2009 and 2010.
The Chargers underachieved last year, and with Norv Turner on the hot seat, they will need big performances this season. The home field advantage leans in their favor, and new additions Melvin Ingram and Jarret Johnson give them firepower on defense while returning Antonio Gates and a crop of new receivers join Ryan Mathews to boost the offense.
As was the case at home in 2009, the Chargers will take the win here.
Result: Loss (8-4)
Week 14 Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have back-to-back divisional matchups with the Eagles and the Redskins before they visit the Bengals in Week 14. It's also worth noting that the following week they play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. You might then suggest that given their tough schedule, the Cowboys are in danger of overlooking the Bengals in this one.
The Cowboys have been plagued by double digit injuries this offseason, and while in many cases these will be distant memories by this point in the season, there are concerns about the overall health of the team. Health isn't the only concern, however, with Jerry Jones recently calling his star receiver "very vulnerable".
With all of these factors in play, and given the timing of the matchup as well as its venue, the Bengals might just surprise the Cowboys in this one.
Result: Win (9-4)
Week 15 at Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles have retooled their already stacked roster, enhanced their coaching fraternity this offseason and are determined to rectify a putrid 2011 season.
The Eagles have back-to-back road games in Dallas and Tampa Bay leading up to this one, but given the current strength of the NFC East, the "Dream Team" will see this as both a crucial and winnable game.
It's hard to see Andy Dalton and the Bengals outscoring Michael Vick and the Eagles offense, and with the extremely talented Eagles defense under-performing in 2011, the focus will be on getting them to fulfill their potential.
Lincoln Financial Field is an intimidating place for a young team to play, especially in a Thursday night prime time affair. This may be a bridge too far for Cincinnati.
Result: Loss (9-5)