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Bengal Bytes (12/15): Glimmer of hope

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The Bengals received some good news on Andy Dalton's injury. The 49ers' offensive line has Geno Atkins and company licking their chops. ESPN shows just how useful gloves have become in the NFL, and in other news you can't believe everything on Facebook.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Day of Disaster Befalls the Bengals’ March to the Playoffs - The New York Times
The Bengals, after the kind of defeat at Paul Brown Stadium that alters the trajectory of a season, are in danger of becoming this year’s Cardinals.

Bengals Walkthru: Ugly Steelers rivalry could return
For all the time I've been covering the Bengals (since 2010) and as long as I've kept very familiar with this rivalry (I grew up in Cincinnati), can't remember it ever feeling uglier or more genuinely hateful than what occurred in the last seven days.

AJ McCarron isn't short on confidence - Cincinnati Bengals Blog- ESPN
Let's take a quick trip back to a time just before AJ McCarron was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Remember it? For a couple of days way back in May 2014 the former Alabama quarterback was blasted soundly on sports networks for his attitude, one that some NFL general managers and owners reportedly perceived as cocky and overly confident. It was during pre-draft meetings with some of their teams that McCarron had said he believed he was going to be a first- or second-round pick, and that he would eventually take the league by storm.

Andy Dalton's injury has Bengals in flux; NFL Week 14 review | The MMQB with Peter King
All the NFL truths went flying out the window in Week 14, from Cincy’s supremacy to Carolina’s vulnerability to New England’s uncertainty. A review of Sunday, plus the MVP race, playoff thoughts and much more

Armour: Andy Dalton's fractured thumb injury could rattle Bengals
he most important element for a championship-caliber NFL team can’t be picked up in the draft or acquired via a trade. It’s impossible to quantify on a stat sheet. It won’t be found on the game tape, either, no matter how many times it’s replayed.

Monday Morning MD: Andy Dalton season over? | National Football Post
One misguided play may have changed a season. When Andy Dalton broke his thumb making a tackle on an interception, the Bengals went from a possible #1 seed to just trying to hang on. The Bengals signal caller didn’t even know he was hurt until he tried to grip a football. Any throwing hand thumb injury is devastating for a QB since you can’t throw the ball if you can’t grip a ball.

AJ McCarron Can Keep Cincinnati Bengals on Course for AFC North Crown
The Cincinnati Bengals can survive without Andy Dalton. Dalton suffered a fractured thumb in his team's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday and is unlikely to play again this season, according to ESPN's Dr. Mark Adickes. That forces AJ McCarron into the starting lineup. McCarron came in against the Steelers and struggled. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton won't need surgery on broken thumb
Lewis revealed the findings following Dalton's visit earlier in the day with an area hand specialist. It's good news for a team that had been bracing for the possibility that the break to his right thumb would require a procedure that could have forced him to miss not only the last three weeks of the regular season, but an undetermined number of playoff games too.

Behind Enemy Lines

Alex Boone out for rest of the season
San Francisco 49ers guard Alex Boone injured his knee in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns and will miss the remainder of the season.

Blaine Gabbert's sack rate no laughing matter for San Francisco 49ers
Blaine Gabbert had jokes. Nobody wearing a San Francisco 49ers uniform was laughing, mind you, but if the Niners quarterback could find a bright side to taking a franchise record-tying nine sacks in a 24-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, more power to him.

Jim Tomsula disagrees with notion 49ers overlooked Johnny Manziel, Browns
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula took umbrage with a couple of his veteran players suggesting the team took the Cleveland Browns for granted. After the 49es' bottoming-out 24-10 loss to the Browns on Sunday, left tackle Joe Staley said it felt like the 49ers thought they could just "show up and play" to get the win while outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks wondered if his team got too "big-headed" after last week’s improbable overtime victory at the Chicago Bears.

Random Bytes

Brock Osweiler Reportedly to Start vs. Steelers
Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak did not name a starting quarterback at Monday's press conference, but Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported he has learned that Brock Osweiler will be under center in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Osweiler is 3-1 while filling in for Manning since the former MVP suffered a foot injury prior to a Week 10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cleveland Browns put CB Joe Haden on injured reserve with concussion
The Cleveland Browns have placed cornerback Joe Haden on season-ending injured reserve because of a concussion. Haden suffered the injury on Nov. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals and has missed the Browns' last five games.

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton not fined for giving kids footballs
Let’s end this nonsense once and for all: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton does not get fined by the NFL for giving kids a football after touchdowns. It’s pure fiction, despite this Facebook claim that Newton has been fined more than $250,000 since he started giving away footballs during his rookie season in 2011.

Brock Osweiler Reportedly to Start vs. Steelers
Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak did not name a starting quarterback at Monday's press conference, but Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reported he has learned that Brock Osweiler will be under center in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Osweiler is 3-1 while filling in for Manning since the former MVP suffered a foot injury prior to a Week 10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Good gloves make for sticky fingers

ESPN takes a look at how just about anyone can catch a one-handed ball with sticky gloves like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are using.