Sports Today: Bengals with great chance to get well against Colts

  • Marcus Hartman
10:04 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 Journal-News Sports
Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 31: Jordan Evans #50 and Hardy Nickerson #56 of the Cincinnati Bengals tackle Troymaine Pope #39 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of a preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The end of another week is upon us, which means the Cincinnati Bengals’ chance to completely turn the page from a putrid performance in Pittsburgh is nearly here. 

We’ve been more apt to talk about the Steelers than the next opponent, Indianapolis, and for good reason. 

Football Outsiders’ advanced stats saw Pittsburgh’s win as so dominant it vaulted the Steelers to No. 1 in their rankings. 

Meanwhile, the Colts have been so bad in their five losses that they are ranked dead last in the league. Yes, Indianapolis is even behind Cleveland, a team the Colts beat at home a few weeks ago. 

How is that possible? The Browns’ defense isn’t that far below average while the Colts are 31st in offense and 30th in defense. 

The Bengals rank 18th, and their Total DVOA score of -0.5 percent means they are the best below-average tam in the NFL if that is of any comfort to you. 

That feels like it matches the eye test pretty well. The Bengals obviously have a nice cache of good players, including some young guys who could blossom into stars if they aren’t already, but there are some major issues that have held them back. 

That shouldn’t be the case this week, though, as the Colts are both bad and banged up. 

Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, but I’m looking for a dominant win Sunday. 

The stars seem to be aligning for a big Buckeye victory when Penn State visits Saturday.  

The stars lie sometimes, but Ohio State has a better team on paper whether you look at stats or talent

Penn State has more than enough explosiveness to come into Ohio Stadium and win, but I see J.T. Barrett and the offense ready to carry over what they have learned over the last five games to put a nice number on the board against a good-but-untested Nittany Lions defense. 

Ohio State doesn’t have to be great on defense. The Buckeyes just have to avoid giving up too many big plays. 

They have to keep Saquon Barkley corralled, and they have to get him on the ground when they have the opportunity. This a team that is fast, physical and runs to the ball so I think that will happen. 

Barkley was fairly quiet last year, and Penn State still won. That was a very fluky win, though. 

And yet thinking back to the way Ohio State’s special teams opened the door to the upset in 2016 we must remember those units haven’t been very good this year for the Buckeyes, either. 

Think Urban Meyer is finally going to have his kicker knock it through the end zone (if he can)?

The Buckeyes have been very workmanlike since losing to Oklahoma. The week off should give them a chance to be fully prepared for the Nittany Lions and maybe squeeze out a few extra big plays that could go a long way toward giving them some breathing room. 

Four Cincinnati Reds made the list if three finalists at each position, and it will be very interesting to see how the voting shakes out. 

Fangraphs ranks Tucker Barnhart third among all players, not just catchers, but he’ll have to beat out a player with a bigger name, Yadier Molina. 

Maybe that phenomenon will help in center field, though. Billy Hamilton has the highlight plays, but statistically he trails  Michael Taylor, who I just found out exists. 

Joe Votto and Adam Duvall posted the highest Fangraphs defensive ratings in the NL at their positions, too...  

Senior Darrell Davis says he will advise the freshmen that tough times are going to come and they will have to push through. 

He also told Nancy Wilson the Flyers should be more talented this season than they were last year when they won the Atlantic 10

With Kostas Antetokounmpo becoming eligible and youngsters like Davis and Jalen Crutcher joining the fold, that is believable. 

Replicating the chemistry and production of the seniors who graduated last year will be a tall order, though... 

Lastly, we’ve reached Week 10 in the high school football season

Franklin kicked things off with a 24-21 win over Brookville last night. 

The Wildcats are headed to the playoffs despite losing star running back Ryan Montgomery (a Cincinnati recruit) to a knee injury. 

Tonight we have big showdowns including Wayne at Trotwood-Madison, Alter at Chaminade Julienne, Springfield at Fairmont and of course Piqua at Troy. 

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