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Bengals Bytes (12/31): Marvin Lewis’ last stand

Is this the final game for Marvin Lewis as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals? What will his lasting legacy be?

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Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

Marvin Lewis made Bengals winners, but legacy includes 0-7 in playoffs
There's been no official word, but if Sunday is Marvin Lewis' finale, the coach leaves the Bengals better than he found them but without any hardware. A departure would end a 15-season tenure for Lewis, who brought the team to heights it hadn’t seen in decades. But the veteran coach could never quite exorcise his playoff demons, going 0-7 in the postseason.

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis' complicated legacy
Taking a deep look at the overwhelming success and unequivocal failure of Marvin Lewis and his complicated legacy on and off the field in Cincinnati. A career record of 8-24 against rival Pittsburgh funnels into the 0-7 postseason statistic as a second black eye, but Lewis’ stability legitimized the franchise and made them relevant. Not just for one year or even a few lucky seasons, he sustained it.

Media Roundtable: questions hover for Bengals
For the seventh time in the last eight years, the Bengals end a season against the Ravens. They may be closing out a lot more than that in Baltimore temperatures projected to feel like 13 degrees with the Ravens needing a win to chill for the postseason and published reports suggesting head coach Marvin Lewis’ 15-year run in Cincinnati has thawed.

Bengals have a Ball with help from Commander Cody to hoist Central crown
In a year the Reds go wire-to-wire the Bengals go to the wire. The Bengals find themselves on the last day of the season needing help to make the postseason. They are 0-for-3 until tonight, when Houston backup quarterback Cody Carlson lights up the Steelers in the Astrodome, 34-14, to thwart Pittsburgh’s bid to clinch the AFC Central. So the Bengals’ tractor-pull of a 21-14 victory over the lowly Browns at Riverfront Stadium to win the division.

Ravens vs. Bengals: Everything You Need to Know
The Ravens shut out the Bengals, 20-0, to kick off the 2017 season in Cincinnati. It was a dominant performance that Baltimore wants to replicate. The Ravens and Bengals will have met in Week 17 seven of the past eight years, but this will be the first time it’s happened in Baltimore since 2011. The Bengals have won the past four regular-season finales, though playoff bids weren’t always on the line.

AFC North Bytes

John Harbaugh delivers NFL's most overlooked coaching performance
When the Ravens stumbled to a 4-5 start, Harbaugh kept his players focused and became the guiding force as the team won five of its next six games. Harbaugh kept his players disciplined and focused throughout all of the significant injuries and unexpected retirements.

Joe Cool doesn't like freezing cold (although his play says otherwise)
Flacco's passer rating in such cold games is 91.8. Since he entered the league in 2008, only two other quarterbacks -- Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers -- have produced better ratings than Flacco in those frigid conditions.

Who's Playing, Who's Not vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Head Coach John Harbaugh said earlier in the week that Maclin would have a “chance” to play Sunday, but it would depend on how he progressed throughout the week.

If Maclin is out, then Chris Moore, Michael Campanaro and Breshad Perriman would likely have increased roles. Campanaro had a strong game last week in Maclin’s absence, catching a touchdown and drawing a pair of critical pass interference penalties.

Joe Thomas believes Browns are 'set up for a long run of success'
A departure would end a 15-season tenure for Lewis, who brought the team to heights it hadn’t seen in decades. But the veteran coach could never quite exorcise his playoff demons, going 0-7 in the postseason. The problem with the plan, Thomas said, was the difficulty of accepting losing in historic ways -- the Browns are 1-30 the past two seasons heading into the finale in Pittsburgh.

Eric Weddle stunned to hear he'll get $1M if Ravens make playoffs
His deal with the Ravens calls for safety Eric Weddle to get a bonus if he makes the Pro Bowl (check) and Baltimore grabs a postseason berth. The Ravens can reach the postseason if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals at home Sunday or if either the Tennessee Titans or Buffalo Bills lose. Weddle leads the way for a Ravens defense that tops the NFL with 33 takeaways.

Random Bytes

Eric Reid: Teams might not sign me over anthem protest, I’m OK with that
If Eric Reid's decision to kneel during the national anthem costs him money, he can live with it. Reid, the 49ers safety who will be an unrestricted free agent in March, was asked on Friday if he's concerned about teams deciding not to sign him because they don't want an anthem protester.

James Harrison of New England Patriots addresses Steelers criticism in statement
"If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and a participation trophy, they're mistaken," Patriots LB James Harrison wrote in a statement posted on his Instagram account on Friday.

Packers sign Corey Linsley to 3-year, $25.5M extension
Green Bay signed center Corey Linsley to an extension, the team announced Saturday. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported it's a three-year extension worth $25.5 million. Linsley, a fourth-year center out of Ohio State, is one start from completing his first full season since his rookie campaign of 2014.

Giants fire longtime personnel executive Marc Ross
New Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman isn't wasting any time making significant changes, on the roster or the front office. Gettleman fired longtime V.P. of Player Evaluation Marc Ross today, bringing a surprisingly abrupt end to Ross's 11-year tenure with the Giants.

2017 NFL season alternate universe - What bizarro timeline might have looked like
The 2017 season has delivered a reality few of us could have predicted or expected. What if Jimmy Garoppolo had been traded before the season? What if Jay Cutler had stayed in broadcasting and Miami got desperate? Time to use your imagination in our bizarro timeline of the season.

What's the best head coaching job? NFL execs weigh in
Tom Pelissero asks a handful of potential head coaches, coaching agents, NFL executives and others, what's the best head coaching job that could come open this year? Plus, five big Week 17 questions.