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Bengals Bytes (12/19): Wheels are coming off

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Why the wheels are coming off of the Bengals and Marvin Lewis era. Vincent Rey’s wife wrote him a note to lift his spirits.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals may want Hue Jackson but he's 'not running' from winless Browns
With Marvin Lewis expected to leave the Bengals after the season, it's no surprise that the organization would have interest in former offensive coordinator and current Browns coach Hue Jackson. But according to Jackson, who is 1-29 in two seasons in Cleveland, he's not going anywhere.

Up next: The wheels are coming off for the Bengals
It should be interesting to hear how Lions coach Jim Caldwell tries to sell the Cincinnati Bengals as a dangerous team this week. Because you know he will. And you know they're not. With their playoff hopes faint, but alive, the Lions (8-6) hit the road this week for a Christmas Eve matchup against the floundering Bengals (5-9). And the Bengals haven't just lost their last two games -- they lost their shirt, too, dropping those games by a combined 67-14.

Cincinnati Bengals may lose both starting tackles for the season
Even in the controlled atmosphere of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota, the black cloud that has hung over the Cincinnati Bengals offense opened up and dumped more cold water on it when starting tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Andre Smith were injured. Now, the final two games look to be in jeopardy for both.

Vinny Rey's wife consoles him with note
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vinny Rey suffered a jaw injury that ended his day early during Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, but it wasn't all bad for Rey. He had a game-high 11 tackles for the Bengals before he was ruled out with the injury, and he came home to a supportive and thoughtful note from his wife, Noel.

Lewis News Conference Transcripts 12/18
After going back through and reviewing the tape from yesterday, it’s been two weeks with not getting off to a very good start. Early in the football game, we had some opportunities to continue to keep field position with positive plays. Defensively, Geno (Bengals DT Geno Atkins) starts the game with a sack on first down, and we get second-and-long. We allowed them to convert that with the screen.

Quick hits: Lewis yet to talk to Brown; Tackles limping
Marvin Lewis met the media again Monday still disputing a report he’s leaving at the end of the season but he didn’t exactly throw cold water on the possibility. Maybe a damp towel as he insisted his future has yet to play out with an impending meeting with Bengals president Mike Brown.

Slants and screens: Green: 'I won't quit'; Vikes offense exploits rookies
A.J. Green would only call it a low point after Sunday’s 34-7 loss to the Vikings. Not the lowest But it is the nadir of the Green-Dalton Era. After they reached the 2015 postseason for the fifth straight time, they’ve now had two losing seasons at 11-18-1 and haven’t hit double-digits in points in five games this season.

TDBH: Marv-lous Bengals claim first AFC North title
As the last two minutes count down at Ford Field, an orange-clad crowd behind the Bengals bench chants alternately, "Who Dey," and "Marvin, Marvin, Marvin" in honor of head coach Marvin Lewis as Bengaldom savors today’s 41-17 victory over the Lions for their first AFC North division title and their first play-off appearance in 15 years. "It's a great day to be a Bengal," says quarterback Carson Palmer, whose blazing assault on the team record book leads this 11-3 run. "Our fans are awesome.

Bengals' Marvin Lewis wants to keep coaching, vague on future plans
Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he wants to continue coaching football, but where he might end up in 2018 remains a mystery. Sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Lewis plans to leave the team at the end of the season, when his contract expires. Lewis denied making any decisions during his press conference on Sunday.

Marvin Lewis was a black man with staying power in Cincinnati
In NFL history, no African-American head coach has been on the job longer than Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals. He outlasted Hall of Famer Tony Dungy. He has spent more days on sidelines than Super Bowl winner Mike Tomlin. For 15 seasons, he set a mark that other black coaches strive to match. And now that Lewis plans to leave the Bengals after the season, it’s time to evaluate their time together.

AFC North Bytes

'Joe Cool' showing signs of his playoff form for Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco passed for a season-high 288 yards, delivered one of his best touchdown throws of the season and ran for his first score of the season in a 27-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. This didn't go unnoticed by the players in the locker room, who have grown accustomed to Flacco playing his best around playoff time.

Hue Jackson says DeShone Kizer will start vs. Bears: 'He's up to the challenge'
DeShone Kizer received an early Christmas gift from coach Hue Jackson -- the starting nod in Chicago on Christmas Eve against No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky. After Sunday's 27-10 loss to the Ravens, Jackson said it was fair to question whether or not Kizer will 'ever get it' and admitted that he considered benching him for the Bears game.

Losing to the Patriots could cost the Steelers more than the No. 1 seed in the AFC
The Steelers went from a possible scenario where they could have wrapped up the top seed in the AFC and rested their star players over the final two weeks of the regular season to now possibly having to win both games just to get one of the two coveted byes in the AFC playoffs.

Random Bytes

NFL Team Grades for Week 15
The biggest game of Week 15 may have been Sunday's Steel City showdown between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, but there was a running theme across the NFL, and it wasn't the thrilling finish we saw to that game.

Ezekiel Elliott to Return to Cowboys on Monday After Serving 6-Game Suspension
Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension is officially over. The Dallas Cowboys running back will report to team facilities Monday morning as expected, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Monday was Elliott's first potential day to return following the ban for a violation of the league's personal conduct policy, which was related to multiple allegations of domestic violence.

Mike McCarthy Says Aaron Rodgers Is 'Sore,' Undecided on Week 16 Status
The Green Bay Packers' playoff hopes were dealt a significant blow Sunday during a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but head coach Mike McCarthy isn't quite ready to rule quarterback Aaron Rodgers out for the Week 16 contest against the Minnesota Vikings. On Monday, he said, "Aaron Rodgers is sore. He was hit too many times. We'll see what tomorrow brings."