Second Thoughts: Bengals and Browns will wear out their punters (yawn)

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Second Thoughts: Bengals and Browns will wear out their punters (yawn)

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CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the ball against James Burgess #52 of the Cleveland Browns in the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Aller /Getty Images)

Three things I learned on Thanksgiving: 1) My daughter Grace makes tasty pumpkin pie; 2) The Vikings might be for real; 3) My mother-in-law can’t tell the difference between Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

The Battle of Ohio doesn’t rank with The Game or the Iron Bowl on the list of Best Football Rivalries. These days, it’s not even as good as Valley View-Franklin. Tough to get excited about the Browns-Bengals game. To make matters worse, they play two times every season. How ugly will things get today at Paul Brown Stadium? Hard to say, but I’m pretty sure I’d take the “under” if I were a betting man.

A quick check of last week’s NFL games show that the Bengals managed 12 first downs while somehow beating the Broncos in thin air. (Wow, how bad is Denver?) Just one team had fewer first downs than Cincinnati. You guessed it: the Browns, with 11. That’s also the same number of losses with which the winless Browns will head home Sunday night. Bengals 20, Browns 14. Will anyone take a break from their Cyber Monday strategizing to watch?

Question: If Ohio State wore “alternate” jerseys for every game, would the Buckeyes have a traditional jersey? That’s where things are heading as THE OSU looks to push more merchandise and impress spoiled 17-year-old recruits, who reportedly are dazzled by anything that looks different. Is this what it’s come to? It seems like these alternate jerseys are rolled out often for the Michigan game, tradition be damned. At least they played at noon Saturday.

I get it, Buckeyes fans. You don’t like Michigan. But this crossing out of every M in the state is ridiculous. The cuteness has worn off, and Gov. Kasich’s annual proclamation is silly. Same thing with Urban Meyer refusing to say the word “Michigan.” Ohio State-Michigan is a great rivalry game, but things are getting childish here in That State Down South. (Don’t bother with the nasty emails. My Ohio-born wife just smacked me upside the head.)

Grant Benzinger has put together a great career at Wright State. The senior guard is one of the reasons to check out Raiders basketball. And if you go to a game you might see his dad, Todd, and take yourself back to when the Reds were great. WSU concludes its four-team round-robin tournament today at the Nutter Center against Fairfield. I like the concept of bringing four good mid-major teams to one venue to duke it out. Cost efficient and the games are competitive. It’s also good to see them play three straight days instead of taking one day off. These college kids can handle it.

Trending up: Philip Rivers, Mike Brey, Jose Siri. Rivers put down the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day with 434 yards passing and three touchdowns for the Chargers. I’ve always liked Rivers, one of the NFL’s last true gunslingers (not a “game manager”). He’s put up big numbers in his career (10th in career passing yards), but is stuck on a team nobody watches. He’s been an underdog since Day 1, when the Giants drafted him in 2004 and traded him to San Diego because Eli Manning threw a temper tantrum.

Trending down: Georgia Dome, Jim Mora, Nate Peterman. RIP, Georgia Dome. You went way too young. The demise of this downtown Atlanta sports and entertainment venue, which was imploded last week, is proof that the stadium arms race will never end. The dome opened in 1992 — 80 years after the first peanut shells were dropped in Fenway Park. The Georgia Dome was built for $214 million. It was a millennial! Its $1.6 billion replacement, swanky Mercedes-Benz Stadium, has much better video boards.

Knucklehead of the Week

Tennis great Maria Sharapova is being investigated by police in India who are probing a housing fraud case. Sharapova helped launch a luxury apartment project four years ago in a suburb of New Delhi. It was called Ballet by Maria Sharapova, although loud grunting usually is frowned upon at the ballet. Apartments were to cost more than $300,000 and star-struck buyers put down money for their new residences. The place was never built. It looks like Sharapova was paid a tidy sum to put her name on a project that might have turned into a front to bilk would-be buyers. She should have done her due diligence.

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