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Bengals Bytes (12/12): Moving from hopeful to hapless

The Bengals had actual aspirations for the playoffs going into last Monday night’s game, but after losing two straight, the Bengals are now looking to next year.

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals Walkthru: Assessing 'strange season' of A.J. Green
When seasons turn sideways and go south as has happened with the Bengals, nobody is immune to criticism. You can’t find a more perfect example than the typically Teflon A.J. Green. He’s the primary superstar on the team and as universally liked as any Cincinnati sports figure in recent history.

Cincinnati Bengals: Fighting Hamilton County over new stadium fee
Another fight between Hamilton County and the Bengals over Paul Brown Stadium looms. The county might not sign a check for an additional $2.67 million the county owes the Bengals for gameday cleanup, security, utilities and maintenance.

Bengals Beat Podcast: Did Sunday clinch end for Marvin Lewis?
Enquirer Bengals beat writers Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. jump into the mess left after the Bears blow out the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Most importantly they discuss the question of if Sunday's results took any doubt away from if the team and coach will part ways at season's end.

Bengals explored emergency defensive back scenarios, including John Ross
Last Wednesday, Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis quipped that first-round pick John Ross might get some reps at cornerback and likely suit up against the Chicago Bears. At the time of that noon press conference on Dec. 6, starting corners Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatick and Darqueze Dennard and starting safety Shawn Williams all were not practicing with injuries and starting safety George Iloka was suspended.

Fox runs "custom note text here" during Bears-Bengals
Fox's graphics hit some snafus during the Chicago Bears-Cincinnati Bengals game Sunday, displaying "custom note text here" and "Packers' offense."

TDBH:Dillon, Bengals close down Riverfront in a rush
While fans honor what had been in the last 30 years, the Bengals wonder what might have been in today’s rainy and foggy final game ever at ghostly old Riverfront Stadium that goes down as a 44-28 rout of expansion Cleveland. After ripping the Browns for 168 yards in the Bengals’ last-second win at Cleveland back on Oct. 10, running back Corey Dillon almost matches it in today’s first half at re-named Cinergy Field on the way to rampaging to 192 yards on 28 carries with 3:15 left in the third quarter. That’s when running backs coach Jim Anderson asks him if he wants to go back in and get 200 yards.

Dunlap: don't blame coaching for Sunday
The hits, the tweets, the posts are coming fast and furious for Bengals veteran end Carlos Dunlap. “What’s going on with the coaching?” “Time for a change.” “Fire coach.” “Blasé, blasé, blasé, blasé,” Dunlap said Monday, barely 24 hours after their worst home loss of his career.

“But yesterday I honestly don’t feel like you can put that on the coach.” Welcome to the last month of the Bengals season with questions swirling around head coach Marvin Lewis.

Lewis News Conference Transcript 12/11
Like I told the guys a little bit ago, we go through the week and we talk to them about our expectations about how the game should unfold — on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday evening, or even prior to the game. Then, we went into the game and (went) against that route. We created penalties on special teams early in the game that changed field position, and that did not help us, in a game where I felt like holding field position was important for us to do. It gives us more opportunity and makes it more difficult (for the opponent).

Cincinnati Bengals' WR John Ross was considered as CB fill-in
Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis sounded like he was joking last Wednesday when he said No. 9 overall pick John Ross’ shot to get some playing time might be at cornerback instead of wide receiver. But he actually wasn't joking at all.

Paul Daugherty: Why are Bengals worrying about banners?
On Sunday afternoon at 12:45, the man who refers to himself as Bengal Boy affixed the 30-foot-long by 30 inches wide banner to a back wall at Paul Brown Stadium, right behind the seat he has occupied since the palace opened in August 2000. Duct tape bearing the Bengals logo kept it in place.

How low will they go? Bengals move from hopeful to hapless
In six days, the Bengals went from hopeful to hapless. A loss to the Steelers crushed their playoff chances. A drubbing by the Bears left them at their lowest point in years and got fans talking about who will be the next head coach.

Cincinnati Bengals Report Card: Grading the loss to the Bears
The 33-7 loss the Cincinnati Bengals suffered against the Chicago Bears on Sunday was one of the worst in the Marvin Lewis era. It also was likely one of the last. The six-day stretch that saw the team set a franchise record with 173 penalty yards while blowing a 17-0 lead against rival Pittsburgh on Monday and then fail to put up any semblance of fight Sunday against a lowly Bears team that had lost five in a row should remove any doubt whether Lewis will be back for a 16th season in 2018.

AFC North Bytes

Despite loss in Pittsburgh, Ravens control playoff fate
Following an agonizing night in Pittsburgh, the Baltimore Ravens took consolation in knowing their fourth-quarter collapse won't necessarily impact their chances of reaching the playoffs. In spite of Sunday night's 39-38 loss to the Steelers, the Ravens (7-6) can end a two-year playoff drought by winning their final three regular-season games. It's a task that does not appear to be all that imposing, given that the collective record of those three opponents is 8-31.

Hue Jackson Says He Trusts Jimmy Haslam's Word He'll Remain Browns Coach in 2018
Hue Jackson is taking Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's word he will be back as the head coach next season. "You got to trust in what he says," Jackson said Monday, per Pat McManamon of "I know I do. I don't see it any other way, personally, myself. I think what he said is what he meant. That's what I believe, and that's what I know."

The Steelers and Patriots defenses are moving in opposite directions
Take a glance at NFL statistics, and you might get the idea the Steelers are well-positioned for the game Sunday against the New England Patriots, a contest that likely will decide the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Random Bytes

Tom Brady, New England Patriots Pick Bad Time to Showcase Biggest Weaknesses
The New England Patriots are good at forgetting. They did that after being thumped in a stunning Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. They did it back in 2014 after being walloped in another prime-time game against those same Chiefs. The result of their amnesia that year was more Super Bowl jewelry.

Marshall Faulk, More Suspended by NFL Network over Sexual Harassment Allegations
A former NFL Network employee says several top personalities within the company sexually harassed her. Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg details the news along with a statement from the network

NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 15?
It's been a terrible year for injuries in the NFL. From Odell Beckham Jr. and David Johnson to Ryan Shazier and Joe Thomas, it feels like we've lost the best players at every position. Now we're adding Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz to the list.