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Monday, September 28, 2015

Memo to Bengals' Fans: Relax

The Cincinnati Bengals, at 3-0, sit alone at the top of the AFC North. Quarterback Andy Dalton is off to his best start since coming into the league, throwing for 866 yards, 8 TDs and only 1 interception.

Division rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore seem to be heading in the opposite direction. The Steelers learned yesterday they will be without the services of Ben Roethlisberger for approximately six weeks. While Michael Vick would appear a competent backup, he's a relative newcomer to Pittsburgh offense.  The Ravens, 0-3 for the first time in franchise history, appear to be a team on the decline.

Then there are the Cleveland Browns, who can't seem to get out of their own way if their lives depended on it.

All of this should make Cincinnati fans fairly optimistic about the 2015 season. Yet that's not the impression I get. Reading comments on social media forums you'd think the Bengals were in last place.

I understand the aforementioned Mr. Dalton hasn't won a playoff game. I also get that it is still early in the season.

But c'mon Bengals fans, is it really time to panic yet? Even if Cincy had lost to Baltimore yesterday,  it wouldn't have been the collapse that fans have been used to.

Bottom line is Cincy fans need to relax and enjoy the moment. Because while they are worrying about when the other shoe will drop, the rest of the AFC is worried the Bengals might be serious contenders come playoff time

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ohio State's Woes, Bret Bielema's Foes

Good morning all!!! Welcome back to college football! I know it's already week 3 of the 2015 season, so sue me.

I usually try not to put too much emphasis on the Ohio State Buckeyes during my weekly preview, but they are currently the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. As such, I will give my take on how they can maintain that ranking.

Front and center is the quarterback situation, where head coach Urban Meyer must make a decision as to whom is going to be the No. 1 quarterback. Personally I think if he feels that Cardale Jones did enough at the end of last season to be the starter, then he should stick with Cardale. The quarterback carousel he is employing now not only hurts the Buckeyes' offensive continuity, it also doesn't allow Jones to establish a rapport with any of his receivers.

To those who say the offense operates more efficiently with Barrett under center, I hear you. Of course everyone does remember before Barrett pulled off the overtime heroics against Penn State last season that he didn't have a great game, either (for the record, he only threw for 74 yards and 1 TD with 2 interceptions). Even before that, it did take both the Navy and Virginia Tech games before Barrett and the offense finally started clicking against the University of Cincinnati. So let's give Jones at least another week before calling for him to be benched.

Then there is the issue of how to best use Braxton Miller. My theory is that if he isn't going to throw the ball at least a couple of times a game, there is no sense in lining him up directly behind center. As a matter of fact, I would say Ohio State would be better off by converting him to flanker and having him work more with Jones. He definitely has the speed to be this season's Devin Smith, now let's see if he has the ability.

While I could go on about Ohio State, I won't. It's on to the resident punchline of the 2015 college football season, aka Arkansas Razorback head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema earned this distinction by calling out Ohio State (sorry this is the last time I mention them until my game preview) for their rather weak schedule. Of course, Bielema's Hogs couldn't even beat Toledo, of the Mid-American conference, the following week. Which not only has Bret still wiping the egg off of his face, it has the other coaches and teams in the SEC waiting for their shot at Arkansas. After all, who wants to be the team who lost to the team that got beat by Toledo?

On to a preview of today's match ups, with lines and my predictions (teams in bold are prediction to cover)

22 Missouri (-20.5) vs. Connecticut- This is one game where the SEC doesn't have to worry about a non power 5 school beating one of their own. At least Maty Mauk and company don't think so.

16 Oklahoma (-30) vs. Tulsa- Last season's contest ended up being a 52-7 Sooners route. So what, 2015 is a new year? Okay, so the Sooners give up 14 points this time around.

4 Michigan State (off) vs. Air Force- What was the name of the Falcons quarterback who threw for all those yards in the nineties? Cause they could use him today against the Spartans.

17 Texas A&M (-34) vs. Nevada- The verdict is still not in on whether Kyle Allen will be the Aggies' next Heisman winner. Against the Wolf Pack, he wont have to be.

12 Oregon (-45.5) vs Georgia State- For completely sentimental reasons, I'd love to see Georgia State make a game of this. My head tells me though that even if Vernon Adams doesn't start at QB, the Ducks still roll.

14 Georgia Tech (-2.5) at 8 Notre Dame- My upset special of the week, I am picking the Golden Domers at home to carry the momentum from last week's wild win with them for at least another game. Even without Malik Zaire at quarterback.

2 Alabama (-6.5) vs 15 Ole Miss- While I am not sure the rebels can win in Tuscaloosa, I am picking them to cover the spread.

That is all I have time for today folks, stay tuned for my Top 25 rankings to be released on Monday Morning!