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Carson Palmer relishes the chance to beat the Bengals

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It adds another layer of intrigue to one of the marquee games of the season.

Under any circumstances, the Cincinnati Bengals' clash with the Arizona Cardinals Sunday night would be one of the marquee games of the season. Both clubs are currently the No. 2 seeds in their respective conferences and are expected to make deep playoff runs. But there is an additional sense of drama lingering over this game that upgrades it from "intriguing" to "must-watch."

It's been four years since the Bengals traded Palmer to the Oakland Raiders due to an unresolved quarrel between the quarterback and owner Mike Brown. Though a lot of time has passed, it's clear Palmer still harbors lingering feelings of animosity against his former club.

"It's not just another game," Palmer said, via Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I'm not going to bore you with that. There is definitely a lot on me for this one in particular."

Palmer has largely avoided delving into specifics about his feud with Brown that ultimately led to his end in Cincinnati. He spoke in more detail about the situation to NFL Media's Michael Silver in September, saying he "took an owner head-on" and that's "shunned in this league."

Regardless of the details behind Palmer's divorce from the Bengals, the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2003 draft, it's refreshing to hear him talk candidly about the grudge he still holds.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who was also traded and is set to face his former team this weekend when the Denver Broncos visit Chicago, was much more muted about any possible revenge factor. "All that stuff is in the past," Cutler said. "I think that everyone has moved on."

But Palmer hasn't let sleeping dogs lies. And considering how well he's performed in Arizona over the last couple of seasons, he might have felt empowered to speak out.

The Cardinals have won 13 of the last 15 games Palmer has started, including seven of nine contests this season. Palmer, 35, is in the midst of a sensational campaign, completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,749 yards and 23 touchdowns. If the season ended today, Arizona would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

The Bengals are currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC and are still reaping the benefits from the Palmer trade. The team used the two picks it acquired from Oakland to scoop up starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and star running back Giovani Bernard while selecting Andy Dalton to serve as Palmer's replacement. Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs on four occasions, whereas Palmer was only able to do it twice.

Dalton's postseason struggles are well-chronicled, and his lackluster performance Monday night against the Houston Texans probably didn't assuage any concerns about him heading into the closing stretch of the season. But the fact is, he's a franchise QB who's in the prime of his career. Plenty of quarterback-desperate teams are probably envious of that.

Keep in mind, Palmer's playoff track record is less than stellar as well. He tore his ACL on his first pass of the game in the Bengals' wild card matchup against the Steelers in 2006 and only completed 50 percent of his passes in Cincinnati's loss to the Jets in 2010. He was injured last year for the Cardinals' postseason run.

Both Palmer and Dalton have a lot to prove as their clubs get ready for January. And given Palmer's comments about facing his former team, he may be preparing for this one like the playoffs have already begun. Game on.