Sports Today: Cincinnati Bengals key to victory against the Bills

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 9:42 AM

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24:  A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 24: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals are back home this weekend after breaking into the win column against the Browns. 

Will the rejuvenating effects of a weekend vacation on Lake Erie carry over against the 3-1 Buffalo Bills? 

There’s no doubt the vibe around the team was different this week, but this is a sneakily big game. 

For all the positives of the past two games following a disastrous start, the Bengals could be just 60 minutes of football away from 1-4 with the Pittsburgh Steelers up next. 

This is a fascinating matchup because I’m not sure anyone knows how good either of these teams are. 

The consensus would probably be the Bills have outperformed expectations while the Bengals have underperformed. 

Cincinnati let one get away against Buffalo last year, and I see the Bengals getting payback this time around. 

A handful of explosive plays from a superior group of offensive skill players figures to be key for Cincinnati because both of these defenses have looked great so far this season, neither team has an offensive line to brag about and both quarterbacks are average. 

Prediction: Bengals 17, Bills 10 

How about Ohio State? 

The Buckeyes play host to a Maryland team that seems to be getting lumped in with dregs Ohio State faced the past three weeks. 

That is a mistake. The Terrapins are no world-beaters, but they are better — probably a lot better — than Army, UNLV and Rutgers. 

The raw stats say Maryland has a good offense and a bad defense. 

The advanced stats (courtesy Football Outsiders) say they are right in the middle of the pack in both areas. 

One thing to keep in mind about Maryland is they have some dudes. 

There are generally two ways teams are built: A handful of future pros surrounded by holes or average across the board with few difference-makers. 

The Terrapins are the former while Wisconsin and Iowa are usually examples of the latter. 

PREVIEW: Ohio State hosts Maryland

The jury is still out on new quarterback Max Bortenschlager, a sophomore who was a three-star recruit forced into duty after not one but two season-ending injuries at that position, but running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison are dangerous and the receiving corps is pretty deep. 

This should be a nice challenge for the Ohio State defense after two weeks off, but the Buckeyes have too much firepower on offense. 

I’ll be interested to see if they work on the running game more after focusing on the pass since the loss to Oklahoma. 

Prediction: Ohio State 38, Maryland 21. 

How’s this for a start to the Reds Hot Stove season: They could be in contention for Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. 

We called him the Japanese Babe Ruth yesterday, but he could also qualify as the overseas equivalent to Hunter Greene as a prospect who could make it in the majors as a hitter or a pitcher. 

(I doubt either of them are going to hit 700 home runs, to be honest.) 

Who knows how this works out, but it’s encouraging to see the Reds continue to try to turn over every stone to acquire talent. 

Their willingness to at least consider this type of financial investment is a good sign, too. 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Reds reveal interesting winter plans

I know the economics of baseball can be discouraging to small-market teams, but I think it’s more a matter of smart investing than not having the capital to keep a winning team together. 

They were proactive (though not soon enough) in selling off assets once the downturn started in 2014, but I still believe they would have tried to spend the money to keep Johnny Cueto if they were still as close to contending as they were in 2012... 

The high school football season got off to a great start Thursday night with Sidney topping Tippecanoe 49-42 in a barn-burner

The Yellow Jackets have a Big Ten running back and buzz building throughout Shelby County. 

“It takes a little bit longer now to go to the grocery story,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “People used to turn and go the other way down the aisle to avoid me. Now, everywhere you go, people want to talk about (Sidney football). There is an excitement, no matter where you go in town. It’s neat. That’s what high school football should be like.”

Gotta love it.  

RELATED: Franklin standout commits to Cincinnati

Here’s a look at the rest of the high school football schedule this weekend, including Wayne at Beavercreek, Northmont at Springfield and Catholic Central at Greenon. 

The Fighting Irish are 3-3 but on the cusp of the playoffs. Plus they have an influx of new players since the start of the season

Trae Young tops NBC Sports’ Player of the Year Power Rankings

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

Move over Marvin Bagley, Trae Young has arrived.

The Oklahoma freshman point guard is having a monster season so far for the Sooners. Oklahoma is 7-1 with wins over Oregon and USC, and it can make a huge statement with a win against Wichita State on Saturday.

Young’s scoring and passing ability has made him one of the most dangerous players in college basketball, and NBC Sports has placed Young at the top of its Player of the Year Power Rankings, updated on Tuesday.

“Assuming he stays on his current pace [I can’t imagine that he actually will, but he might] he’ll do things that have not been done for 27 years, and that may never have been done before,” NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster writes. “Young is currently averaging 28.8 points and 8.8 assists. The last player to do that was Loyola Marymount’s Terrell Lowery back in 1990-1991.”

It’s fair to say Young’s current pace would be insane to sustain throughout the season. But through eight games, Young looks like a special player and living up to his elite potential.

If he can keep up his pace and put Oklahoma in a position to make the NCAA Tournament as a top-4 seed, it’s going to be hard to ignore Young for college basketball’s Player of the Year awards.

CBS writer ranks ACC the worst of the Power 5 conferences in 2017 season

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 12:17 PM

The ACC will be sending more teams to a bowl game this year than any other conference. But not only does CBS sports writer Barrett Sallee say the Atlantic Coast Conference doesn’t have an argument as the best conference in the country, it’s not even in his top 4.

In the conference rankings he released on Tuesday, Sallee ranked the ACC at No. 5 behind all the other four Power 5 conferences. Here was his argument:

If the SEC was top-heavy in 2016, the ACC was close to toppling over in 2017. Sure, Clemson is a monster. But Miami turned out to be a bit of a paper tiger down the stretch, Virginia Tech and NC State were decent and Florida State fell off a cliff (no, it wasn’t just the loss of quarterback Deondre Francois that caused it). Only four of the 14 ACC schools finished above .500 in conference play.

 

Report: Former Hurricanes star Warren Sapp among retired players accused of sexual misconduct at NFL Network

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 12:12 PM

According to a report from TMZ, former Miami Hurricanes star Warren Sapp is among a group of retired players accused of sexual misconduct at NFL Network.

Marshall Faulk, Donovan McNabb, Ike Taylor, Heath Evans and Eric Davis are the other former players involved.

Jami Cantor, 51, is the accuser who is suing. Cantor was hired by NFL Network in 2006 as a wardrobe stylist before being fired in 2016.

The NFL Network suspended Faulk, Evans and Taylor after Cantor’s lawsuit.

Per TMZ, here’s Cantor’s details of the alleged harassment:

Marshall Faulk (current on-air talent) — asked invasive questions about sex, “such as favorite sex position, whether she liked oral sex, and whether she dated black men.”

“As time went on, Mr. Faulk became more aggressive, such as inviting Plaintiff to his hotel room, stroking and pulling out his genitals in front of her, pointing to his crotch and asking Plaintiff, ‘when are you gonna get on this already?’ He also pinned Plaintiff against a wall, demanding oral sex while he pulled his pants down.”

Ike Taylor (current on-air talent) — sent Plaintiff sexually inappropriate pictures of himself, and a nude video while masturbating in the shower.

Warren Sapp (former on-air talent) — came into restroom while plaintiff was preparing clothes and urinated in front of her.

When she screamed at him to get out, Sapp said, “Sorry mama, but your office shouldn’t be our sh*tter.”

Sapp is also accused of giving the woman sex toys for Christmas 3 years in a row.

Donovan McNabb (former on-air talent) — sent text messages to plaintiff asking if “she was a squirter” and telling her she “looked like the kind of girl that squirted when getting f*cked.”

Heath Evans (current on-air talent) — sent nude pics of himself to plaintiff

Eric Davis (former on-air talent) — groped, grabbed and made sexually charged comments to plaintiff.

Eric Weinberger (former Exec Producer of NFL Network) — sent nude pics and graphic text messages including telling plaintiff she should be “getting f*cked every day.”

According to ESPN, Cantor originally filed a wrongful termination case in October and filed a more detailed complaint on Monday.

“The supervisors knew about it, the supervisors observed it,” Cantor’s lawyer, Laura Horton, told The New York Times on Monday. “It was insidious in this particular environment.”

Steelers make official move with linebacker Ryan Shazier

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 12:07 PM

When Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier had spinal surgery, it was clear that his season was over. Today, the Steelers made it official, moving him to Injured Reserve.

Before the surgery, there was hope that Shazier could come back by the playoffs. Quarterback Tommy Maddox had a similar injury and missed just two games. That was when it was thought that Shazier wouldn’t need surgery, however. When he did, things changed.

“Unfortunately Ryan will not be able to contribute on the field during the remainder of this season,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II, per Teresa Varley of the team’s official website. “However, even off the field Ryan will continue to be one of our team leaders. We know his spirit and positive outlook will help him to continue in his recovery, as well as serve as an inspiration to our team.”

The Steelers struggled in their first game without Shazier, giving up 38 points to the Baltimore Ravens. They still edged the Ravens, 39-38.

“I’m glad we could get the win for Shay,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “It was really tough. I went and saw Shay (last) Thursday after practice. Guys are starting to go visit him. When you walk in and see him and give him a hug, it makes you breathe a little easier. We love our brother and we are glad we got this win for him.”

That was a great win, and a much needed one, but they play a tough opponent with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots coming up at 4:25 EST on Sunday. That will be the real test of how well they can step up and what they’ll look like in the postseason without Shazier.