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Bengals Bytes (1/5): Big X-factor

One of the biggest X-factors going into the Wild Card game is rookie Jake Fisher. DeAngelo Williams got some good news but his availability is still uncertain. One head coach got an extension while another vacancy opened up.

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Lewis says Bengals starting week preparing McCarron to start; mum on Dalton
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis refused to provide an update on the status of injured quarterback Andy Dalton on Monday, but did say the team will start this week preparing for AJ McCarron to be the starting quarterback for Saturday's wild-card round playoff game.

Cincinnati Bengals' playoffs X factor? It could be rookie Jake Fisher
Looking for a possible X-factor in the Cincinnati Bengals’ wild-card round playoff game Saturday night? Look no further than rookie Jake Fisher, a former high school tight end who was drafted as an offensive tackle and moved last week to H-back. With the possibility Ryan Hewitt (knee) could be out for a second straight game this week, Fisher might be just the piece the Bengals need to get their offense going against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

How the Cincinnati Bengals can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers
Playoffs, prime time and Pittsburgh. These are three things the Cincinnati Bengals simply haven't handled well in recent years. But if they want to finally put an end to a playoff victory drought that has spanned 25 years, the Bengals must conquer all three Saturday night when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a wild-card-round playoff game under the lights. The 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff will be the Bengals' fifth in prime time this season. They won only one of the other four and dropped the other three by a combined 10 points.

Familiar foe fuels rise in Bengals' ticket prices
If nothing else, rising ticket prices for the Cincinnati Bengals' playoff game show that opponents matter. Once the Pittsburgh Steelers became the Bengals' next opponent after the Denver Broncos won on Sunday, the median list price for tickets on the secondary market rose 16 percent for the game at Paul Brown Stadium, according to New York City-based ticket search engine SeatGeek.

Bengals notes: Focus still on third down, Lamur to IR
Bengals notes take a look at the need to improve on third down against Pittsburgh, plus, Emmanuel Lamur's season ends with a knee injury, future opponents, Bengals face 36-year drought and tickets.

Notes: Lewis mum on QBs; Guenther salutes record, Zimmer, Gruden; Lamur to IR, Roach called from PS
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went to the doctor’s Monday, but head coach Marvin Lewis isn’t going to get a second opinion from the media. On Friday, Dalton expressed hope that the cast for his fractured throwing thumb would come off Monday and maybe put him in play for Saturday night’s Wild Card Game (8:15-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium.

Voices of '05: Simmons, Thornton say Bengals have a good shot
Brian Simmons and John Thornton, the defensive leaders of that first Marvin Lewis team to make the postseason 10 years ago, are still in the game. Simmons, the club’s 1998 first-round pick who became the most versatile Bengals linebacker ever, is a college scout for Jacksonville combing parts of the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast. Thornton, a defensive tackle who was Lewis’ first major free-agent signing back when the Bengals had to do that sort of thing, is now an agent signing players and coaches to those deals.

As far as Bengals are concerned, chippiness with Steelers 'in past'
Ahead of their Week 14 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers a month ago, the Cincinnati Bengals used as motivation a series of threatening tweets from Steelers players that had been directed at Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. It led to a pregame skirmish and some chippy in-game play that later led to about $140,000 in fines being handed out to players on both teams.

Behind Enemy Lines

Fitz Toussaint: NFL survivor, dad ... Pittsburgh Steelers starting RB?
With DeAngelo Williams banged up, Fitz Toussaint could find himself going from undrafted free agent to potential starting RB in a playoff game. In less than two years, Toussaint went from undrafted free agent looking for a tryout to potential starting running back in a playoff game for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams day to day for ankle injury
Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams is day to day after an MRI on Monday showed no fractures or major structural damage to the ankle he injured Sunday, a team source told ESPN's Britt McHenry. Williams left the Steelers' 28-12 win over the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter and did not return.

Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams has no structural damage in ankle
Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams does not have a fracture or any major damage in his right ankle and has an outside chance, albeit a small one, of playing Saturday night in a wild-card playoff game in Cincinnati, a team source confirmed to the Post-Gazette. Williams had an MRI Sunday night after the Steelers returned from their 28-12 victory in Cleveland and is expected to be listed as day-to-day for the Bengals. His biggest issue could be a matter of pain tolerance, the source said.

Random Bytes

Bold Predictions for NFL Wild Card Weekend
With Wild Card Weekend on every fan's mind, the excitement is reaching its peak as we break down our bold predictions.  Is Kirk Cousins going to outduel Aaron Rodgers for Wild Card Weekend? Will the Seahawks keep a close game with Minnesota?  Watch Adam Lefkoe and Bleacher Report NFL Analyst Chris Simms break down Wild Card Weekend in the video above.

Indianapolis Colts agree with coach Chuck Pagano on extension
The Indianapolis Colts have given coach Chuck Pagano a contract extension, the team announced Monday. The team is scheduled to officially announce the deal in a press conference that starts at 10:30 p.m. ET. In four seasons with Indy, Pagano is 41-23 with three playoff appearances, three playoff wins, two division titles and last year's appearance in the AFC championship game.

Tom Coughlin steps down as New York Giants coach after 12 seasons
After 12 years and two Super Bowl titles, Tom Coughlin is no longer the coach of the New York Giants. Coughlin resigned after meeting with Giants ownership on Monday, one day after New York completed its third consecutive losing season. Coughlin, 69, coached the Giants for 12 seasons and led them to two Super Bowl championships.

Bruce Arians: 'Of course' I lied about Week 17 plans
Bruce Arians hoodwinked us. Arizona's charismatic coach insisted last week that the Cardinals would play to win in the regular-season finale, regardless of the strong likelihood that they were locked into the NFC's No. 2 seed. Outplayed in every facet of the game versus the Seahawks, Arians' players didn't seem to get the message. Perhaps it was because the coaching staff didn't believe it themselves.