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Around the AFC North: Week 16


CINCINNATI (10-4-1)**: The Bengals punched their ticket to a fourth consecutive postseason by beating the Broncos, and they also potentially answered some questions in the process.

"We won another game that people had a lot of questions about," Coach Marvin Lewis said after Monday night's 37-28 triumph.

Among the doubts being cast in advance was Cincinnati's 2-6 record in prime time since 2011, the year Andy Dalton became the Bengals'  starting quarterback.

The Bengals' response was timely given what's next for them, a winner-take-all, AFC North Division showdown against the Steelers on Sunday night at Heinz Field.

"It kind of had a playoff atmosphere, a win-or-go-home atmosphere," S George Iloka said of the Denver game. "Through the ups and downs guys kept battling. They hit a big play, then we'd hit a big play. It's very encouraging and guys are happy about it."

WR A.J. Green was injured early in the game against the Broncos (right bicep) and hardly played, but he told he believed he'd be available for the Steelers … CB Dre Kirkpatrick replaced CB Terence Newman (illness) late in the third quarter. Kirkpatrick wound up intercepting two passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown … RB Jeremy Hill (147 rushing yards against Denver) became the third rookie in NFL history with four games of 140-plus yards on the ground. Curtis Martin had four for the 1995 Patriots and Eric Dickerson had five for the 1983 Rams.


BALTIMORE (9-6)**: The Ravens ceded control of their playoff fate when they couldn't come up with an answer for the Texans' defense.

"They did a good job of creating that disruption up front and making me feel uncomfortable," QB Joe Flacco told after Sunday's 25-13 loss in Houston. "We couldn't move the ball, couldn't make first downs, couldn't get any completions, just couldn't get ourselves going and moving forward.

"It just wasn't good."

Baltimore punted or turned the ball over on its first nine possessions. Flacco was 3-for-18 passing for 27 yards with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 0.0 passer rating in the first half. He finished 21-for-50 for 195 yards, with two touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 41.7 rating.

Case Keenum, the quarterback Houston signed off the Rams' practice squad to start the game vs. the Ravens, went 20-for-42 for 185 yards, with no touchdowns, one interception, and a rating of 50.2. reported the Ravens' playoff prospects have come down to this: They have to beat the Browns in their regular season finale and the Chiefs have to beat the Chargers … Starting RT Rick Wagner and starting LT Eugene Monroe were knocked out of the Houston game with injuries … Flacco targeted WRs Torrey Smith and Steve Smith a combined 24 times against the Texans (12 each). The pair finished with a combined 10 catches (five each, two by Torrey Smith for touchdowns).

CLEVELAND (7-8): The Browns lost both QB Johnny Manziel for the season (hamstring) and their hopes for reaching the postseason when they lost at Carolina.

Cleveland has averaged 11.7 points per game during a losing streak that reached four with Sunday's 17-13 loss in Charlotte.

"Honestly, I can't (explain it)," WR Andrew Hawkins told

S Tashaun Gipson (MCL) was placed on the injured reserve list prior to the game against the Panthers … Manziel ended his season 18-for-35 passing (51.4 percent), with no touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 42.0. He also rushed nine times for 29 yards (3.2 per attempt) and one touchdown … Cleveland converted 25 percent of its third downs (3-for-12), gained 228 total net yards, and held the ball for 21:57 at Carolina.

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