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Bengals Bytes (12/4): Under pressure

The Bengals face the part of the season everyone has been waiting for -- the postseason. The Ravens will be selecting sixth overall in the draft. The Browns cleaned house. And, it is never too early for a mock draft.

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Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals face quarterback questions with Peyton Manning, Andy Dalton - Monday NFL preview
NFL Nation previews what to watch for around the league Monday, including status updates on Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Bengals QB Andy Dalton headed into the playoffs.

With Steelers looming, Bengals believe it's time for a playoff 'exorcism'
During the middle of his postgame news conference Sunday afternoon, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was peppered with a round of questions that tested his understanding of his team's playoff scenarios, as they existed at that moment. The Bengals had just won. The Steelers had, too, and the Jets lost. The late-afternoon games -- namely those in Denver and Kansas City -- were just kicking off. A lot of wheels were in motion, and in some form or fashion, they all had an impact on the Bengals when the day began. So, did Lewis want to know what had to happen outside of Paul Brown Stadium in order to most directly affect the Bengals' playoff fate?

Pittsburgh Steelers, Marcus Gilbert excited about playing Bengals
The last Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals matchup ended with nearly $140,000 in player fines for on-field fighting and verbal spats on social media later that night. These two can break the 1-1 season tie in the playoffs this weekend in Cincinnati. Denver's 27-20 win over San Diego secured this delicious 3-vs-6 AFC Wild Card matchup.

2016 schedule: Cincinnati Bengals' opponents determined
The Pittsburgh Steelers' 20-17 loss to Baltimore last Sunday officially placed the Cincinnati Bengals in first place in the AFC North and helped finalize their 2016 home and away opponents. Wins by Houston and Denver on Sunday also helped finalize the Bengals' 2016 home and away opponents. The dates of each game will be determined in April when the full regular-season schedule is released.

NFL Playoffs: Cincinnati Bengals roll into playoffs with AJ McCarron
The Cincinnati Bengals closed out the regular season with a 24-16 win Sunday. They now move on to the playoffs. Reasons to be excited: All season, players, coaches and team executives have commented about how different 2015 felt from past years. It's partly due to team president Mike Brown's insistence this past February that the Bengals veer from the way they previously approached offseasons, and partly due to the changes the Bengals made to their weekly preparation.

Doc: Bengals need playoff win to relieve pressure
And now it starts. The season that will determine The Season. The truth and its consequences. Good enough is no longer good enough in Cincinnati. A 12-4 regular season is fine. It's a big notch on a normal belt. Not our belt, which has been cinched to snapping by 25 years of postseason famine, including the previous four seasons. Only a playoff win will release the pressure.

Quick hits: Bengals-Steelers Saturday night; Adam stands; Whit savors 12-4; Defense gets points mark
Peyton Manning’s return meant a Broncos' victory and a Bengals’ rematch with the Steelers in Saturday night's Wild Card Game (8:15 p.m.Cincinnati's Channel 12) at Paul Brown Stadium. "The rubber match,’ said Whitworth of a series that was split this season so nastily after the Bengals’ 24-16 victory over the Ravens Sunday at PBS in the season finale.  No one on this Bengals roster was here ten years ago; when the Steelers tore Carson Palmer’s ACL on the second snap of the 2005 Wild Card Game at PBS and went on to beat the Bengals, 30-17. Head coach Marvin Lewis was,

Bengals tie franchise record with 12th win
The Cincinnati Bengals tied a franchise record with their 12th win, closing out the regular season with a 24-16 victory over the 5-11 Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals will enter the postseason as the AFC's No. 3 seed. Here's what you need to know

Behind Enemy Lines

Baltimore Ravens will be picking No. 6 in the 2016 NFL draft
The Baltimore Ravens will select No. 6 in the 2016 NFL draft, which will be their highest selection since 2000. The Ravens shared the same 5-11 record as the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers. But the Ravens's strength of schedule (.507) was better than the Jaguars (.473), who pick No. 5, and worse than the 49ers (.539), who select No. 7. Here’s a quick look at the top three positional needs for the Baltimore Ravens.

Ravens' John Harbaugh calls this 'one of the most rewarding seasons'
The Baltimore Ravens' disappointing 2015 season will be defined by significant injuries, the lack of big plays on offense and an inability to create turnovers on defense. It will also be remembered as the season in which the Ravens (5-11) tied the second-worst record in franchise history but refused to crumble. Nine of Baltimore's 11 losses were by eight points or fewer, including a season-ending 24-16 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ravens lose to Bengals, 24-16, finish season 5-11 - Baltimore Sun
After it was finally over, after the Ravens had trudged off the field one final time in the 2015 season, coach John Harbaugh made his way around the locker room. He sat next to and had extended conversations with some Ravens. Others got a hug or a handshake and then Harbaugh moved on. But Harbaugh, the worst season in his eight-year tenure now over, wanted to make sure that he showed his gratitude to as many players that he could reach.

Random Bytes

Cleveland Browns fire Mike Pettine, Ray Farmer
The Cleveland Browns have fired coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer following a 3-13 season. Pettine went 10-22 in two years and dropped 18 of his final 21 games after a promising 7-4 start in 2014. The Browns announced Pettine's and Farmer's dismissals shortly after the team's 28-12 home loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, who wiggled into the AFC playoffs.

Denver Broncos Need to Sink or Swim with Peyton Manning in NFL Playoffs
Peyton Manning's steady, effective performance Sunday in a top-seed-clinching victory over the San Diego Chargers indicates that Manning's Week 10 benching in favor of young backup Brock Osweiler might have been a blessing in disguise for the Denver Broncos.

Vikings vs. Packers: Score and Twitter Reaction from Sunday Night Football
Spurred on by the betrayal of one of their own, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay Packers 20-13 at Lambeau Field on Sunday night. With the win, the Vikings won the NFC North and clinched the No. 3 seed in the 2016 playoffs.

NFL Mock Draft 2016: Updated 1st-Round Predictions After Week 17
The latest NFL news, rumors, scores, schedules, predictions, picks against the spread, free agent updates, power rankings, mock drafts and more