CINCINNATI — Quarterback A.J. McCarron gets a full week of practice with Cincinnati’s starting offense this week, knowing he’ll make his first NFL start on Sunday in San Francisco because Andy Dalton is hurt.

It is, of course, a big event for McCarron, who will try to use his experience in national championship games at Alabama to help him in his emotional first start.

The Bengals (10-3) are on the verge of clinching their fifth straight playoff spot, and McCarron gets the chance to take them there. They blew a chance on Sunday by losing to Pittsburgh 33-20 at Paul Brown Stadium, with Dalton breaking his right thumb while making a tackle after an interception in the first quarter.

McCarron, who had thrown a total of four passes in the NFL in a mop-up role, took over and threw a pair of touchdowns but also a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown that put the Steelers in control.

BRONCOS: Peyton Manning is set to return to practice Wednesday for the first time in a month, but Brock Osweiler will make his fifth consecutive start in his place Sunday at Pittsburgh.

The Denver Broncos said Coach Gary Kubiak met with his QBs on Tuesday and laid out his plan for the week.

Manning had a trio of throwing sessions indoors and away from his teammates last week after he had his hard cast and then a walking boot removed from his left foot the previous week.

The Broncos are 3-1 in Osweiler’s starts and 7-2 when Manning starts.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle placed rookie running back Thomas Rawls on injured reserve and re-signed Bryce Brown to bolster a depleted running back group.

Rawls, who has been starting in place of the injured Marshawn Lynch, broke his ankle and suffered ligament damage during the Seahawks’ 35-6 win over Baltimore on Sunday.

Rawls finishes the season with 830 yards rushing.

JETS: Ryan Fitzpatrick is hoping he stays put as a member of the New York Jets next season.

The 33-year-old quarterback is having what is shaping up to be the best statistical season of his career while leading the Jets into contention for a playoff spot. A potential free agent after the season, Fitzpatrick said he would “love to be back” with the Jets.

Fitzpatrick has thrown a career-high 25 touchdown passes, just four shy of the Jets’ franchise record set by Vinny Testaverde. He also has 11 interceptions, but none in his last three games – with nine TDs in that span.

VIKINGS: Minnesota could be without three key defensive starters again Sunday as they try to keep their playoff position.

Returning to practice following last Thursday’s game, linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive tackle Linval Joseph and safety Harrison Smith were held out on Tuesday. The Vikings host Chicago on Sunday, one game behind Green Bay in the NFC North but with an outside chance at clinching a playoff spot with a victory.

COWBOYS: Dallas waived cornerback Tyler Patmon, who began the season as the replacement for the injured Orlando Scandrick in the nickel defense but struggled to keep the job.

LIONS: Detroit released tackle LaAdrian Waddle and put tight end Brandon Pettigrew on injured reserve.

Detroit has also claimed center Gabe Ikard off waivers from Cleveland.

RAVENS: Baltimore signed free agent quarterback Ryan Mallett, who played in six games with Houston earlier this season.

Mallett started four games with the Texans this season before being cut on Oct. 27. He threw three touchdown passes and four interceptions.

BROWNS: The team put wide receiver Brian Hartline on injured reserve with a broken left collarbone, ending his first season with Cleveland.