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Bengals Bytes (11/29): Treating kids to a shopping spree

Several Bengals players got into the spirit of the holiday season, and they took kids out for a shopping spree. The playoff race is heating up as the Bengals get set to take on the Steelers.

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals Pittsburgh Preview NFL Week 12 Monday Night Football
Cincinnati has won two straight games after beating Cleveland 30-16 to climb within a game of .500 at 5-6 overall. The Bengals had the league’s worst rushing offense but rookie Joe Mixon broke out for a 114-yard effort against the Browns and Andy Dalton continued his hot play with two more touchdown passes and no turnovers.

Bengals players treat Cincinnati kids to holiday shopping spree
Several Bengals players got into the holiday spirit Monday, surprising more than two dozen Cincinnati area children with a shopping spree. A.J. Green, Michael Johnson, Joe Mixon, Clint Boling and Cedric Ogbuehi joined 25 children at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Newport, Kentucky.

Bengals Week 12 fantasy recap: Mixon, Dalton deliver
Andy Dalton threw multiple touchdowns for the third straight week as Cincinnati’s offense scored on its first five possessions against Cleveland. Dalton got away with a few close calls. Balls that probably should’ve been picked harmlessly fell to the turf and the Bengals got to live another down.

TDBH: Bengals win record fourth straight to share three-way AFC Central lead
A month ago the Bengals were left for dead at 1-6. But after today’s 26-6 victory over the struggling Saints at Riverfront Stadium for their franchise-best fourth straight victory they move into a three-way tie with Pittsburgh and Cleveland at 5-6 atop an AFC Central Division that is having a wild inaugural season. The Steelers and Browns have defected from the old guard NFL to help form the division in the first year of the league’s merger with the American Football League, but it is the upstart Bengals in just their third season of life from the insurgent AFL that are causing all the commotion.

Week 13 Preview: Playoff Races Heat Up
As the calendar turns to December, the NFL playoff picture is starting to take shape. With five weeks remaining in the regular season, there are currently 25 teams either in or within two games of a playoff spot. Four teams are racing towards the finish line with winning streaks of at least six games – Philadelphia (nine), Minnesota (seven), New England (seven) and Pittsburgh (six).

Top 50 Moments: Bengals Sweep Steelers in War of 18-12
The Bengals flex their muscles on Nov. 15, 2009 to out-Steeler the Steelers to win the brutal War of 18-12 that gives them all the tiebreakers and puts them on the verge of a division sweep as well as in the hunt for a top AFC seed at 7-2. Only a game against the lowly Browns in two weeks stands between the Bengals and a 6-0 AFC North record after the Bengals hold the Steelers to three third-down conversions and four field goals less than two months after they beat Pittsburgh in the last minute. “To me the best thing about this team is the places we’ve won,” says Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer after his unit silences Big Ben on 12 of 15 third-down tries. “Green Bay. Baltimore. It’s hard to win in Pittsburgh. You don’t just go to Lambeau and win. We’ve won at some real Holy Grails.”

Mixon Nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week
Joe Mixon is one of three Week 12 nominees for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week. Other nominees include Alvin Kamara (Saints) and Le’Veon Bell (Steelers). Voting for this week’s winner is open until Thursday at 3:00 p.m. ET at Fans can also vote on Twitter using #AirandGround and the nominee’s last name.

Fantasy Recap: Week 12
QB Case Keenum is playing at a statistically elite QB level since his Week 9 bye, posting 866 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Even with that, the Vikings are giving him the Tyrod Taylor treatment by looking for a reason to bench him in favor of Teddy Bridgewater. From a fantasy standpoint, the Vikings have plus matchups in Weeks 13, 16, and 17. The question is, will Keenum can make it that far? Maybe Bridgewater offers more long-term upside, but why fix what isn’t broken?

Steelers game first of several 'must wins' for Bengals' George Iloka
Considering the recent history, it would be easy for the Bengals to place a bigger emphasis on Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers than they would another opponent. The Steelers have been one of the Bengals’ toughest challenges in the Marvin Lewis era. They have an 8-23 record against the Steelers during the coach's tenure and haven’t beaten Pittsburgh in the last six tries, including playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger focused on Cincinnati Bengals, not New England Patriots
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will let his coach worry about the New England Patriots, saying the Steelers haven't watched "one thing of Patriots film" this season. Coach Mike Tomlin, in an interview with NBC's Tony Dungy that aired before Sunday night's game with the Packers, predicted "fireworks" for the Steelers' Week 15 matchup with New England, with the two teams likely to see each other again in the playoffs.

5 times Pittsburgh Steelers crushed Cincinnati Bengals' hopes and dreams
It has been almost two years since the Bengals and Steelers met in the infamous AFC Wild Card game, and it still feels like it's #TooSoon. Vontaze Burfict's interception late in the fourth quarter - with the Bengals leading 16-15 - appeared to seal the team's first playoff win since 1991. But a Jeremy Hill fumble and a couple of penalties later, a Chris Boswell 35-yard field goal sent the Bengals to an improbable 18-16 loss.

NFL Week 13 picks: Saints beat Panthers in NFC showdown, Bengals shock Steelers
My entire family lives in Cincinnati, which I'm only telling you because I'll be visiting them this week. Also, I'll be at this game Monday night, mainly because I've always wanted to witness an Andy Dalton prime-time meltdown in person. Actually, the real reason I'm attending this game is because my dad is one of several former Bengals players being honored at halftime and I would be the worst son ever if I didn't go.

AFC North Bytes

Tomlin expects Bengals' best
“It’s AFC North ball. We love that. We understand what that is. They’re riding a two-game win streak. It’s critical ball for them as it is for us.” Those weren’t the first things Mike Tomlin said during his regular weekly news conference today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, but they represented the recurring theme.

Josh Gordon Dealt Drugs, Estimates Making $10K Per Month as a Student at Baylor
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has admitted to dealing drugs during his college days at Baylor. In an interview with Ben Baskin of Sports Illustrated, Gordon said he would receive up to six pounds of marijuana each week through the mail and estimated he made "upward of $10,000" per month from selling it in cities around the state of Texas, including Dallas and Austin.

Ravens news, notes and opinions on Perriman's status, roster decisions, Ngata's injury
In regard to struggling wide receiver Breshad Perriman, let’s get one thing out of the way: It would be foolish for the Ravens to move on from him now, the way many frustrated fans are suggesting. There’s nothing to be gained from that, and the Ravens don’t exactly have a plethora of young receivers who are waiting in the wings and would benefit greatly from the team removing Perriman from the wide receiver equation.

Random Bytes

Benching of Eli Manning Ends an Era for the Giants in the Ugliest Way Possible
Eli Manning will be back before you know it. Manning was unceremoniously benched Tuesday afternoon after 14 seasons and 210 consecutive starts. The two-time Super Bowl MVP will be replaced by former tabloid back-page chew toy Geno Smith, a quarterback so inept that he deserved about half of the criticism he received during his Jets tenure.

NFL1000: Players with the Most Untapped Potential
There's talent and potential all around the league, and it doesn't just belong to the stars and starters. Whether it's a player who starts out on special teams and gets the coaches' notice or a guy who fills in as an injury replacement and blows everyone away, there are all kinds of ways to announce your presence with authority in the NFL when you get your chance.

Jimmy Garoppolo to Start over C.J. Beathard in Week 13 vs. Bears
The San Francisco 49ers are going to see what Jimmy Garoppolo can do as their starting quarterback on Sunday in Week 13 at the Chicago Bears. First-year head coach Kyle Shanahan told his quarterbacks about the switch Tuesday, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.