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Xmas Cards come calling

Andy Dalton

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Bengals are a longshot of going to the playoffs if they and the Jets win out and finish tied at 10-6. The tiebreaker would come down to strength of victory. The current records of the 10 teams each team would have defeated would be 57-83 for the Jets and 51-89 for the Bengals, a six-game deficit unlikely to be closed.

MORE GREEN-DALTON: If Andy Dalton throws two touchdown passes in the last two games, he'll become the first rookie quarterback since the NFL merger in 1970 to throw at least 20 touchdown passes while winning at least eight games.

Chad Ochocino owns the top five receiving seasons for the Bengals and Green would need 268 yards to crack into the top five with 1,274 yards. Green is four yards shy of breaking Cris Collinsworth's club rookie record of 1,009 yards and when Collinsworth did it he became the first Bengal to ever get 1,000.

On Sunday, Green became the eighth Bengal to have a 1,000-yard season, joining Collinsworth, The Ocho, Eddie Brown, Tim McGee, Carl Pickens, Darnay Scott and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Green's right shoulder injury is being called a sprained AC joint and it is expected he'll be able to play the last two games and not require offseason surgery.

SHORT STUFF: The Bengals were steaming about their performance on short yardage Sunday in St. Louis when they were 0-for-3 on third or fourth-and-one.

"Can't have it," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

 But up until Sunday, they were much better than last season on third-and-two or less. In '10, the Bengals were 28-for-58 for 48 percent. With two games left, they are 20-for-34 for 58 percent.


For the third straight game the Bengals may be playing a backup quarterback in Saturday's 1 p.m. Christmas Eve game against the Cardinals at Paul Brown Stadium. A backup that has fewer starts than Dalton. Houston's T.J. Yates had one start coming in, St. Louis's Kellen Clemens nine and second-year man John Skelton has nine.

Even if starter Kevin Kolb gets the nod Saturday, it will only be his 17th start compared to Dalton's 15th.

Skelton has proven to be more than a body with a 4-1 record in relief of Kolb. Kolb, the franchise quarterback obtained in a trade just before the season with a 3-6 record, was still suffering symptoms from a concussion Sunday and head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he won't know more until Wednesday.

But Whisenhunt wouldn't hesitate going to Kolb if he's healthy. The Cards have been red hot with either guy in winning four straight and six out of the last seven. Both guys have produced at about the same level with Kolb throwing nine TDs and eight picks and Skelton eight and 10, respectively. While Skelton has engineered the two latest wins over the 49ers and Browns, Kolb beat the Cowboys in overtime, 19-13, when he scrambled away from a certain sack and found LaRod Stephens-Howling for a safety-valve pass that turned into a 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

Whisenhunt pretty much indicated to the media Monday that the guy that is starting in Cincinnati has to be ready to take all the snaps starting Wednesday.

The Cardinals defense has fueled the streak behind the their new coordinator Ray Horton, a former Bengals defensive back and secondary coach, and his secondary coach Louie Cioffi, a Bengals assistant for 14 seasons.

Here's the matchup: The Cardinals haven't allowed more than 23 points in the last seven games and the Bengals haven't scored more than 24 in the last seven.

INTANGIBLES: The Christmas Cards haven't been on the road since a 23-20 win in St. Louis Nov. 27 and haven't been anywhere close to cold weather. Arizona's 21-17 win in Philadelphia on Nov. 13 was secured in 60 degrees.

And it's going to be a mild Christmas for the Cards in Cincy with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio calling for the low 40s with a wind of five to 10 miles per hour out of the north and a 40 percent chance of showers.

Whisenhunt stuck to giving his players Monday and Tuesday off during the winning streak and he's done it again despite the short week. He also decided against flying east early, so they'll practice early Friday before getting on the plane.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis moved his schedule up a day so that the players had Monday off before working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday sked. So this week Monday is Tuesday in Bengaldom.

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