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Bengal Bytes (12/20): Opportunity knocks

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It is officially time for AJ McCarron to take advantage of his opportunity against the 49ers. What are the clinching scenarios for this weekend?

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AJ McCarron wants to draw Brett Favre comparisons
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron made mention of Tom Brady following last week's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers after he replaced Andy Dalton. McCarron was less comparing himself to Brady than noting other quarterbacks have gone on to have success when replacing starters for long stretches, the New England Patriots in 2001 being the most famous situation. But if he wasn't comparing himself to Brady, who, if anyone, would McCarron like to be compared to? The first-time starter went with a classic choice: Brett Favre.

Rockdale Elementary - Bike Giveaway
Bengals players Adam Jones, Reggie Nelson, and Vontaze Burfict give away 100 bikes at Rockdale Elementary. Checkout the pictures of the event.

After chippy Steelers game, Bengals D aims for cohesion vs. 49ers
The Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) will try to earn their franchise-record fifth consecutive playoff berth when they visit an NFC West opponent at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers (4-9) will be out to derail those hopes. Here are things to watch for during the game

Bengals' Green added to injury report; probable vs. 49ers
The Cincinnati Bengals have a late addition to their injury report ahead of Sunday's game. Wide receiver A.J. Green is dealing with a back injury, but is listed as probable and remains in line to start against the San Francisco 49ers.

Bengals-49ers: Facts, figures, stats, injuries, notes and a prediction
Here is a closer look at Sunday's Bengals game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Behind Enemy Lines

Is Tomsula’s job secure after 49ers’ loss to Browns?
Jim Tomsula would return as the 49ers’ head coach in 2016, barring a disaster in the final four regular-season games. The 49ers’ 24-10 defeat to the lowly Browns raised fresh questions about Tomsula’s ability to teach and inspire, qualities CEO Jed York cited when he promoted the longtime defensive line coach 11 months ago. In his former role, Tomsula’s technical acumen and motivational skills allowed a slew of undrafted free agents — current linemen Ian Williams, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Mike Purcell among them — to maximize their potential.

49ers Mailbag: Gabbert most likely to begin '16 as starter
The 49ers have three games remaining in the season, and -- believe it or not -- there is plenty at stake. They certainly did not play like much was on the line last week in Cleveland. After the criticism the coaching staff and players earned from their weak performances a week ago, the 49ers (4-9) will be under a lot of scrutiny on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jarryd Hayne Plans to Return to NFL in 2016
San Francisco 49ers return man and former rugby star Jarryd Hayne hasn't been deterred by a series of demotions over recent months.  After the 49ers released the Australian sensation and then signed him to their practice squad, Hayne reiterated he plans to return to the NFL next season, according to the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows

Random Bytes

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski absent from practice
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski were not at practice Friday. The Patriots' injury report released later in the day officially listed Brady as questionable with illness for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans. Gronkowski, who's absence was not injury related, is officially listed as probable.

Michael Bennett of Seattle Seahawks defends Russell Wilson from comment of Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett came to the defense of Russell Wilson on Thursday when asked about comments made by Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine earlier in the week.

5 NFL Teams Ready to Take the Next Step...in 2016
There is always next year. As the season winds downs, multiple NFL teams still hold tenuously to playoff aspirations even when they've obviously become far-fetched. Others, meanwhile, start to look toward the future. For some, the 2015 season already went bust, but a select few teams didn't get over the hump and should be excited about their prospects next year.

2015 NFL playoff scenarios for Week 15
Take a look at all the ways the Bengals can clinch a playoff spot tomorrow. As well as every other teams clinching scenarios.