NFL teams charge into the second half of the 2014 season this week. Several battles could shape the playoff picture. Here's a preview of this week's most interesting storylines:

Thursday, Nov. 6

This Is The Biggest Browns-Bengals Game Ever (Since 2013)

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Cleveland at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on NFL Network
Not only will Thursday's Browns-Bengals game be televised nationally in primetime, but it also will decide which Ohio team rises to the top of the AFC North. While it may seem like that's a rare occurrence, these two teams battled with playoff implications late last November, just in time for the Browns to start a seven-game skid.

Cleveland (5-3) visits Cincinnati (5-2-1), which is undefeated in its last 14 regular-season home games. Meanwhile, the Browns haven't won a road game in the division since 2007. Maybe Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer can work some magic, but it doesn't look good for the Browns.

Sunday, Nov. 9

The 49ers Are Almost Playing Must-Win Games

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San Francisco at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
We're halfway through the 2014 season and the 49ers are…mediocre? Yes, despite a talent-laden roster that's advanced to back-to-back NFC title games, San Francisco (4-4) can't seem to close ground on the first-place Cardinals in the NFC West.

It doesn't get any easier this week as Jim Harbaugh leads his team into the Superdome, where New Orleans (4-4) is undefeated this season. The Niners can look forward to games against the Redskins, Giants and Raiders, but they might be the only three sure wins left on the schedule. They'll need to steal three or four more victories to get into the playoffs. A win this week would be huge.

Megatron Should Return For The Lions This Week

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Miami at Detroit | Ford Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
NFC North-leading Detroit (6-2) is one of the conference's best teams. After resting on a bye last week, the Lions now face a gauntlet of challenging opponents over the next three weeks. Fortunately for them, Detroit should have star wide receiver Calvin Johnson when they face Miami (5-3) on Sunday.

Megatron has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, but he'll likely return to the Lions' fifth-ranked passing attack, which will match-up vs. the Dolphins second-ranked pass defense. The outcome of that battle should decide the game.

Can 'Big Ben' Keep Putting Up Big Numbers?

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Pittsburgh at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Pittsburgh (6-3) has ridden Ben Roethlisberger's arm into elite status in the AFC. The Steelers' quarterback has 21 touchdowns and just one interception since Week 2, including six TD passes in each of his last two games. This Sunday, Roethlisberger looks to continue his roll against a competent Jets defense.

Oddly enough, New York (1-8) can best battle the high-scoring Pittsburgh offense by having its own third-ranked rushing attack keep the ball and keep Roethlisberger off the field. It would also help if someone on the Jets roster proved to be a capable quarterback who doesn't turn the ball over. The Steelers defense may make that difficult.

Monday, Nov. 10

'The Sanchize' Goes Prime Time

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Carolina at Philadelphia | Lincoln Financial Field; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
Eagles' quarterback Mark Sanchez is no stranger to the spotlight or a starting role. After all, he took the Jets to consecutive AFC title games and was a star at USC. This Monday night, Sanchez starts in place of the injured Nick Foles, as Philadelphia (6-2) hosts Carolina (3-5-1). All 'The Sanchize' may have to do this week is hand off to running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, who will challenge the Panthers 26th-ranked rushing defense.

The Carolina offense has sputtered during the team's current three-game losing streak. Quarterback Cam Newton's lunging run against the Saints last week is the team's only touchdown that hasn't come during garbage time. The Eagles defense has bent but not broken most of the season. It needs to contain Newton and let the Philly offense run up the score.

Other Games

Sunday, Nov. 9
Kansas City at Buffalo | Ralph Wilson Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Tennessee at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Dallas at Jacksonville | Wembley Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Atlanta at Tampa Bay | Raymond James Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Denver at Oakland | Coliseum; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
St. Louis at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
N.Y. Giants at Seattle | CenturyLink Field; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Chicago at Green Bay | Lambeau Field; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Bye: Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, San Diego, Washington, Houston