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Bengals Bytes (12/24): Twas the night before Christmas

The Bengals prepare for their Christmas Eve match up against the Houston Grinches, er I mean Texans. What does Robert Griffin III’s short leash mean for his future with the team. The Vikings’ trip to Wisconsin didn’t have a great start.

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Carolina Panthers v Washington Redskins Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Tez, Eifert, Boling out; The kids up next?

In the wake of Friday’s star-studded injury report, the Bengals have no choice but to find out if the kids are OK with starting Will linebacker Vontaze Burfict and starting tight end Tyler Eifert ruled out for Saturday night’s game and wide receiver A.J. Green categorized as questionable despite having a full practice.

How the Bengals hope to steal Christmas

The Texans have been Scrooge, The Grinch, and Mr. Potter all rolled into one when it comes to spoiling the Bengals in the Green-Dalton Era. Now in Saturday night’s Christmas Eve game in Houston (8:25-Cincinnati’s Channel 12, NFL Network), the 5-8-1 Bengals are the Yuletide villains against the 8-6 Texans locked in a first-place struggle with 8-6 Tennessee. The Bengals.com Media Roundtable is meeting at the Bailey Building and Loan.

Bengals vs. Texans: Predictions, three keys

The Bengals’ second half and fourth quarter struggles are well documented, but if there is one positive from the last month the team must carry over on the road is the first half success they have enjoyed the last three weeks. The Bengals have played team ball, playing offense off the defense, outscoring Philadelphia, Cleveland and Pittsburgh 59-9. The Bengals would do well to continue that formula if they wish to pull off the upset in Houston.

Bengals activate P.J. Dawson against Texans

The Cincinnati Bengals had an open spot on their active 53-man roster when they released long snapper Tyler Ott on Tuesday, and they will fill it by bringing linebacker P.J. Dawson up from the practice squad.

AFC North Bytes

Marty Mornhinweg on the Ravens-Steelers matchup

Marty Mornhinweg breaks down how the Ravens could attack the Steelers defense.

Division title at stake in this Baltimore-Pittsburgh matchup

The Steelers and Ravens have met four times in the playoffs since the 2001 season, helping fuel a division rivalry as heated as any in the NFL. Yet, seldom have the two AFC North rivals met this late with so much on the line. Pittsburgh hosts Baltimore Sunday for the first Christmas Day game in Steelers’ history. And it will mark just the second time that a game played this late in the season between the two will have such importance.

Robert Griffin will be on a short leash as Hue Jackson seeks another spark on offense

Short leash out of town? Robert Griffin will start his third game in a row after a 12-week layoff, and Hue Jackson put him on notice that the leash will be short. After successive losses by 13 and 20 points, during which the Browns never held a lead, the coach won’t hesitate to replace Griffin with Cody Kessler.

Random Bytes

Todd Bowles Hospitalized with Undisclosed Illness

New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles was admitted to a hospital Friday afternoon, and his status for Saturday's game against the New England Patriots is uncertain. Per a release from the Jets' official website, Bowles was diagnosed with an undisclosed illness and is listed in stable condition.

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton says LB Luke Kuechly should skip final two games

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said middle linebacker Luke Kuechly shouldn't risk his long-term health by playing in the team's final two games. This came 24 hours after Kuechly, who was held out of Monday's game at Washington by coach Ron Rivera despite being cleared from the concussion protocol two days earlier, made it clear he wanted to play.

Vikings' plane slides off Wisconsin runway, struck for hours

The Minnesota Vikings' team plane slid off a Wisconsin runway and became stuck in the grass, leaving players waiting for hours to get off the aircraft. A team spokesman says there were no injuries after the landing shortly after 5 p.m. Friday at Appleton International Airport. The Vikings will play the Green Bay Packers on Saturday.

Twenty-one things to know about the Week 16 injuries

Ryan Mathews' season is over. The Eagles running back suffered a herniated disc during Thursday's win over the Giants and will miss "significant time", according to coach Doug Pederson.