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Bengal Bytes (12/16): Up for the challenge

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The Bengals' defense has a goal to be the best defense in their competition against the Broncos. Meet the best Broncos player who you've never heard of. Who is the NFL's biggest Grinch?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Doc: Players must act like men, not boys
Immediately following the Bengals Nov. 1 win at Pittsburgh, a Steeler named Vince Williams posted this Tweet: "I catch Vontez on South Beach, I’m painting that boi on sight." Williams was reacting to the apparent glee Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict displayed after his legal tackle of Le’Veon Bell shredded Bell’s knee. Apparently, he wasn’t talking about applying a coat of Glidden’s Best Boy Blue.

Bengals players find the Christmas Spirit
Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson remembers vividly the first time he met a professional athlete. It was in college after a game during his playing days at Georgia Tech when former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick just happened to be hanging out in the locker room.

Bengals defense saddles up for smash-mouth derby
The return of Vontaze Burfict has sparked the latest defensive stand. Paul Guenther, the Bengals’ second-year defensive coordinator, likes to play the ponies and use them as motivation. So isn’t it rather fitting that the offense standing between the Bengals and a play-off bye comes from the Broncos, a restless horse looking to spoil it all Monday (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 5)?

Bengals' defense wants to outdo the Broncos' No. 1 unit
No. 1 in fewest yards passing allowed. No. 1 in fewest yards rushing allowed. Denver’s top-ranked defense has been the best at pretty much everything, keeping the Broncos in contention for a lofty playoff seed. Don’t think they haven’t noticed in Cincinnati.

Behind Enemy Lines

Peyton Manning preps for Saturday workout; T.J. Ward nears return for Broncos
Saturday will a big day for Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning. Coach Gary Kubiak announced that Manning will undergo a big workout Saturday that he will be apart of to see how he is progressing and what his status will be moving forward. The veteran QB didn't practice for the second straight day, while battling the partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Kubiak said that although Manning hasn't practiced this week he continues to workout inside in the mornings.

Broncos' defense in rare position, needs big rebound
In just 30 football minutes on Sunday, the narrative around the Denver Broncos' defense underwent a distinct change. At halftime of what eventually became Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Broncos had a two-touchdown lead with the No. 1 defense in the league to protect it. By game’s end, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had 380 yards passing -- he is the only quarterback to have topped 300 yards passing in a game against the Broncos this season -- while Antonio Brown had 189 yards receiving to go with two touchdowns, and the Steelers had a 34-27 win.

Hidden Truths: Meet the Broncos' No-Name Pass-Rusher Overshadowing Von Miller
It's Week 16, and it's time to break down the hidden truths of the week. This week, we take a look at an unknown Denver Bronco who's dominating his position. Who is this pass-rusher who's just wrecking the competition, and how is he overshadowing Von Miller? Find out in the above video as Adam Lefkoe

Random Bytes

Who Is the NFL's Biggest Grinch?
3-Wide is a weekly feature in which theScore's NFL editors debate the hot topics around the league. Grab a cold towel and brace for hot takes. Joe Thomson: Evenbefore Sunday's temper tantrum, Odell Beckham Jr. had been getting on my nerves. He's a grandstanding whiner, and plays football with the entitled air of a trust fund kid named Parker.

There is a way New York Jets can upset New England Patriots
So can the New York Jets beat the New England Patriots? Of course they can, but it will take their best performance of the season. Five things they must do Sunday at MetLife Stadium

Will Calvin Johnson play last Lions home game Sunday?
There will be some pretty emotional home farewells during this weekend's slate of games, with all-time great defensive back Charles Woodson leading the way in Oakland. But what about Calvin Johnson in Detroit? "I don't know," Johnson said, via ESPN.com. "I don't know."