Three thoughts on the Bengals as we head into Sunday's elimination game at Paul Brown Stadium...
*I wrote after last week's game about how the Bengals aren't just bad, but boring. Here's how boring they are: I'm at the point where I'm actually looking forward to watching Jeff Driskel's first NFL start, not because I think Driskel is any good or out of any ill will toward Andy Dalton, but because Jeff Driskel making an NFL start is at least sorta interesting.
That's as much of a statement about this season as anything.
*This kind of statement will matter a lot more if it's made in 13 months....
*There's a prevailing sentiment that Mike Brown will be more inclined than he's ever been to move on from Marvin Lewis at the end of this season, primarily because of the box office hit the team has taken this season.
Home games are being played in front of a lot of empty seats.
I'm not sure how ownership didn't see this coming.
But if the idea is to hire Hue Jackson and then watch the fans come flocking back, well, then hoo boy....
Bengals v. Broncos......
Kind of doesn't feel like a big game involving two teams with the same record that are bunched in a crowded playoff hunt does it?
The Broncos play in close games. Eight of their 11 tilts have been decided by seven points or less. The Bengals are getting points, and as much of a mess as they've been, I'll take them. For all of the Bengals' defensive issues, this is not a trustworthy Denver offense.
The problem is, it's a very good Denver defense coming to Cincinnati, and I have no idea how the Bengals wll block Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. A backup QB making his first start against this Broncos defense doesn't add up to much optimism.
The final nail gets hammered in on Sunday.
Broncos win. Bengals cover.
Broncos 24 Bengals 20 (Cincinnati +5)
There are other games....
Indianapolis (-3) over Jacksonville. Andrew Luck is back, this line seems low, and we should all be glad the Bengals played the Colts when they did.
Tennessee (-7.5) over the Jets. The Jets have scored 17 or fewer in each of their last five. Sam Darnold won't be playing. The Titans are not as good as they were made out to be a few weeks ago, but they're not as bad as they've shown the last two weeks. Lay the points and take Mike Vrabel's team.
Pittsburgh (-3.5) over the Chargers. Melvin Gordon's absence, and LA's corners against Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster have me laying the points.
New England (-5.5) over Minnesota. Josh Gordon is reliable, and Rob Gronkowski is back.
Detroit (+10) over the Rams. LA probably wins, but Vegas has not done with the Rams this year, and this number seems just a tad high.
Kansas City (-15) over Oakland. The difference between Ray Rice and Kareem Hunt is that when video surfaced of Rice punching his wife, he was already washed-up. Hunt will play in the NFL next year.
Houston (-5.5) over Cleveland. Baker, meet JJ.
Baltimore (+1) over Atlanta. It's interesting what some youth and excitement at quarterback will do.
Chicago (off) over the Giants. Doesn't matter who plays QB for the Bears. Eli Manning is in for a rough day.
Tampa Bay (+3.5) over Carolina. The Panthers can't keep up with the Bucs' offense.
Green Bay (-12) over Arizona. Andre Smith is back. I wish Bene Benwikere was too. Mainly because it's fun to say "Bene Benwikere."
Seattle (-9.5) over San Francisco. Are you bored by Richard Sherman? I'm bored by Richard Sherman.
Buffalo (+4.5) over Miami. Sometimes the right moves don't work out. See Glenn, Cordy.
Philadelphia (-6.5) over Washington. I remain convinced that, in spite of mounting evidence that would suggest otherwise, the Eagles have a run in them. I'm running out of time to be right about this.
Last week: 10-5
Thursday night: 1-0
This season: 96-75-5
There are college football games....
Ohio State (-14) over Northwestern. The Buckeyes give up explosive plays. Northwestern doesn't make many explosive plays. Ohio State is still outgaining its opponents by more than 150 yards per game, despite its defensive issues. The Wildcats are getting outgained, on average, by more than 20 yards a game. The last time an OSU team needed a blowout win in the Big Ten title game, it won 59-0 against a Wisconsin team that was better than this Northwestern team. I have the Buckeyes behind the Oklahoma Sooners if the Sooners beat Texas, but speaking of...
Texas (+8) over Oklahoma. Tom Herman is 12-1-1 as an underdog, with ten outright wins. The Longhorns are nine points away from being unbeaten. The Sooners are a decent defense away from being taken seriously. Give me Texas, the points, and a second Longhorns win over the Sooners this season.
Alabama (-13) over Georgia. My cousin-in-law Bruce loves Georgia football the way I love UC basketball. He deserves a win in the SEC title game. I badly want his DAWGS to pull off the upset. We don't always get what we want.
Memphis (+3) over UCF. This stinks. The UCF fans in Orlando were great to us when UC played there two weeks ago, and I'm a big McKenzie Milton fan. This will also knock UC down a rung in the bowl hierarchy. Memphis lost the first go 'round by a point. The Tigers won't lose this one.
College guesses: 43-37-1
(Photo: Getty Images)