This weekend the Cincinnati Bengals actually play a team in a worse funk than they are.
The Broncos are only 2.5-point favorites despite playing at home against a team that has lost two in a row and three of its last four games.
This has all the earmarks of an ugly slugfest between two teams that have major issues on offense and pretty good defenses.
The Bengals are No. 22 over at FootballOutsiders.com, two spots ahead of the Broncos. The major difference between the teams there is special teams, where Cincinnati is a little below average and Denver is dreadful.
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What will decide this game?
I think Cincinnati has the edge in playmakers, so I’m going to surprise myself and pick the Bengals.
Score: Bengals 13, Broncos 12.
The matchup between Ohio State and Illinois on Saturday is not exactly appealing, though it should deliver almost everything a fan could want for Senior Day: A chance to see guys like J.T. Barrett, Billy Price and Tyquan Lewis one last time at Ohio Stadium and an easy tuneup for Michigan.
(We should find out a lot about how far the Wolverines have come when they play at Wisconsin, too.)
Illinois is very bad, especially on offense, but kind of interesting because the Fighting Illini are in year two under head coach Lovie Smith.
The former Ohio State assistant coach (better known for taking the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl 11 years ago) is going young, having started 16 true freshmen already this season.
Ohio State can name its score.
Here’s mine: Buckeyes 42, Fighting Illini 3.
As expected, Joey Votto did not win the National League MVP.
Giancarlo Stanton edged him by just two points in balloting, which begs a question: If that many people were willing to overlook the fact he played for a last-place team, why did so many players who had nowhere near the season he did get so many votes?
At any rate, Votto seems to have taken it all in stride.
“I don't feel terribly disappointed, not really because I think that it was just two very, very good seasons that went head-to-head," Votto said. "The subject was more individual performance than team wins. ... Had the Marlins won or the Reds won, this would have been near-unanimous. To me, this is just a pick ‘em.
“People basically said, 'We loved them both.' That's something I'm grateful for. Giancarlo plays in a monster ballpark and hit all those home runs, and I was cheering for him. I played every day, and I felt like I put together a nice, well-rounded season. We did it from the beginning to the end. We both stayed healthy, and I think the fans appreciated it."
Can’t help but admire that perspective.
On the bright side, not that long ago there was concern he would inevitably go into an age-induced decline.
Now I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking he should have another season like last year next year as long as he is healthy.
The Dayton Flyers nearly overcame a terrible start to win their first game at the Gildan Charleston Classic on Thursday night, but Hofstra pulled out a 72-69 win.
Positives: Anthony Grant’s team nearly won despite having to play without Josh Cunningham (foul trouble) most of the night. Darrell Davis scored 20 points and Kostas Antetokounmpo had a double-double while Trey Landers, John Crosby and Xeyrius Williams also had their moments.
Negatives: They were whistled for 20 fouls and outscored 20-9 from the free-throw line. Hofstra also won the battle of the boards, outscored the Flyers 13-6 in second-chance points and went 8 for 22 from the three-point line while Dayton was 6-for-22.
They’re all going to be learning experiences this season — especially early — but you hate to drop one when you A) had a really bad stretch and B) had still had a chance to pull it out at the end.
Ohio State won though.
The fascinating dual experiment of new coaches at OSU and UD played out in real time on different TV channels last night, and both teams looked like they were in their first month under new management for parts of the night.
Chris Holtmann’s Buckeyes built up a big lead in the first half but had to hold on late to beat Texas Southern (coached by former Indiana coach Mike Davis).
Keita Bates-Diop, whose potential to have a career year is crucial to Ohio State making much noise this season, scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds while Jae’Sean Tate, Micah Potter and Musa Jallow also scored in double figures.
Overall the Buckeyes did what they should do to a team from the SWAC: More rebounds, more blocks, fewer turnovers, more points in the paint and off the bench…
The Wright State women’s basketball team lost a close one at Missouri despite getting 36 points from Fairmont grad Chelsea Welch.
The Raider men play Murray State at the Nutter Center on Saturday night.
Did you know WSU has never lost to the Racers?…