Notes: second-half terrain; Up next

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If Sunday is any indication of what the Bengals face in the second half of the season that starts Monday (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5 and ESPN), against the Texans at Paul Brown Stadium, it is going to be a wild ride.

The Bengals came within an end-zone drop by Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and then a mid-field drop of an interception by Giants safety Landon Collins of being the AFC's lone unbeaten. The drops allowed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to catch a break and lead the 9-0 Patriots to a last-second winning field goal at MetLife Stadium.

With Denver falling to 7-2 Sunday, the 8-0 Bengals start the second half of the season holding the second seed in the AFC's ever-evolving playoff picture and the Broncos look to have the toughest road ahead of the three currently jockeying for one of the two byes.

The Broncos play both unbeatens at home, the Patriots on Nov. 29 and the Bengals on Dec. 28, so the composite winning percentage of their remaining opponents is .555. The Patriots have a .483 slate and the Bengals are at .466.

But to show you how volatile it all is, just look at NFL.com's playoff picture "if the season ended today."

The Nos. 4-6 seeds are held by the 4-5 Colts, 6-4 Steelers, and 5-4 Bills, respectively behind third-seeded Denver.

UP NEXT: After playing their third game in 28 days Monday, the Bengals get a short week to prepare for the 7-2 Cardinals and their NFL's No. 1-ranked offense. The Bengals depart Friday to play their most balanced team yet since the Cardinals are ranked third in defense. Their 14 interceptions are tied atop the NFL with the Giants and Carolina.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton heads into Monday's game just .1 behind Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the race for the NFL passing title at 111. Arizona's Carson Palmer is right behind them at 108. Palmer leads the NFC in fourth quarter passing and Dalton is third.

HONOR PLANNED: The Bengals plan to remember the victims of Friday's terrorist attack in Paris when they take the field Monday. The plan is for linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga to carry a French flag and and American flag when the Bengals come out of the locker room for kickoff.

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