CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals are preparing to begin the playoffs with AJ McCarron at quarterback.
Dalton had a cast removed but will wear a splint. His availability next week is far more likely. He would not comment Tuesday when asked if he had a chance to play this week but has not thrown a football in three weeks.
"I wish Andy would just be quiet and quit telling you all what he's doing," Lewis told reporters following Sunday's 24-16 win over Baltimore. "He puts a lot of pressure on himself that way."
Lewis was referring to Dalton informing the media on Friday that he was going to meet with doctors Monday and hoped to have his cast removed.
Lewis would not immediately share the results of that exam.
"We're going into at least the early part of the week preparing with AJ," Lewis said. "It's important for the football team."
What looms ahead for Cincinnati (12-4) is a prime-time playoff showdown Saturday night against hated AFC North rival Pittsburgh.
With a win, the Bengals will end the NFL's longest postseason victory drought and move on to face the New England Patriots in the second round.
Cincinnati has gone 2-1 in McCarron's three starts since Dalton fractured his thumb on Dec. 13 against the Steelers.
Dalton has been relegated to working on the side in practice, which he began last week with simulated drop-backs and conditioning work.
McCarron played another largely mistake-free game Sunday, passing for 160 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens.
He has not thrown an interception in three career starts.
"If the other quarterback turns the ball over and you don't, it puts your team in a situation to win the ballgame," McCarron said. "That's the biggest thing for us, taking care of the football."
The Bengals intercepted Baltimore quarterback Ryan Mallett twice on Sunday and did not turn the ball over themselves. As a result the Bengals wrapped up the third 12-win season in franchise history.
What Cincinnati failed to secure on Sunday was a coveted first-round bye, which would have given Dalton a bonus week to recover.
But Denver's victory over the Chargers in Sunday's late game clinched the No. 3 overall seed for the Bengals, who now must face the Steelers, their chief nemesis.
While McCarron has played well since taking over, the Bengals, who began the season 8-0, no longer are considered Super Bowl contenders minus Dalton's 3,250 passing yards and 25 TDs.
In fact, Cincinnati is considered a slight underdog at home against Pittsburgh.
"It's going to be unfortunate if Andy (Dalton) can't go," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "But we believe in AJ McCarron, and we believe we can win with him. We're excited for the opportunity."