As the NFL season surpasses the midway point, it's time for teams with less than favorable records to gear up for playoff pushes. These teams have an easy slate of games ahead and should take advantage of it to jockey for position in the standings.
While the NFL has proven to be as unpredictable as any major professional sports league, these teams should be able to learn from their early-season mistakes and string together a series of wins in the upcoming weeks.
Let's take a look at the teams who will benefit from an easy schedule through the next couple of weeks and are inevitably going to undergo a rise in the standings.
It's been a lackluster start to the season as the Bengals sit at 4-5 just a year removed from making an improbable run toward the playoffs in 2011, but they receive a favorable upcoming schedule and should be able to capitalize from it.
The Bengals were in danger of continuing their four-game losing streak last week as they faced a tough home matchup against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, but they wowed the league by dominating the G-men to the tune of a 31-13 victory.
Now, Cincinnati will face the hapless Kansas City Chiefs, who have gradually become the punching bag of the NFL. Then, they turn around to face two AFC West teams that are struggling in Oakland and San Diego before facing the very beatable Dallas Cowboys.
Simply put, the Bengals match up well against each of these teams and could very well be looking at a four-game winning streak heading into the Cowboys game.
At 3-6, the Bills haven't exactly had the strongest of starts to the season. But they face the perfect sort of competition in the coming weeks to turn their season around.
Buffalo won't be able to make a playoff run or anything, but a couple of wins in a row does plenty for a team's confidence going down the stretch. This club is at a position where it can either finish out strong and build toward a 2013 playoff run, or watch the roof cave in and finish in the league's cellar.
An upcoming Thursday Night Football game at home against Miami should be an easy win. The Dolphins were just crushed 37-3 by the Tennessee Titans, who simply haven't played well against anyone this season.
Their next matchup against the Indianapolis Colts may not be as much of a walk in the park as some expected at the season's start, but the Colts struggle to stop the run and that's one of the few things the Bills do well.
After that, the Bills face Jacksonville at home, which should be an easy win, just like it has been for nearly every other team that has hosted the Jags this season.
I know there has been few, if any, positives said about the Eagles this season, but their next two games could help to turn things around in Philly.
Mike Vick may be out, but we saw glimpses of what rookie Nick Foles is capable of in last week's loss to the Cowboys. Facing the overrated Washington Redskins will help Foles get his game going, as the 'Skins are currently 30th in the league in pass defense.
After that, the Eagles host Carolina on Monday Night Football. Second-year pro Cam Newton has struggled mightily in his sophomore campaign and the Eagles' defense should be able to contain the 2-7 team behind a crowd that has nothing to lose.
Just like the Bills, the Eagles may be in a situation where their chances of success in 2012 are slim to none. And as inexcusable as that is for the roster they boast, they have more than enough talent to turn things around for next season.
NFL Power Rankings - Week 11
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