latest headlines

Sports Today: Stars not aligning for a Bengals bounce back against Bears

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 9:51 AM
By: Marcus Hartman

It’s been some week in Bengaldom, eh? 

Everyone seems to be having a hard time turning the page from the Bengals’ 23-20 loss to the Steelers on Monday night. 

›› Iloka backs Steelers’ Mitchell, defends JuJu hit on Burfict

If you weren’t aware, Cincinnati hosts the Chicago Bears on Sunday

Although the erstwhile Monsters of the Midway are just 3-9, it’s pretty easy to see them winning this weekend. 

RELATED: 5 things Bears coach John Fox said about the Bengals

While the mental state of the Bengals has to be in question considering how they lost Monday night, they’re definitely in bad shape physically. 

Seven starters, including five on defense and running back Joe Mixon, missed practice Thursday. 

Backup defensive backs Darqueze Dennard (who obviously plays a lot) and Brandon Wilson were out, too. 

From a styles-make-fights standpoint, this matchup favors the Bears, too. 

Both teams stink on offense, but the Bears can run the ball and the Bengals’ run defense is below average. 

Chicago also has a good pass rush, so if the visitors get an early lead it could be bad news for the Bengals. 

While both defenses have played above average this season, the Bears have forced more turnovers. 

Score: Bears 20, Bengals 10. 

The Cleveland Browns play host to the Green Bay Packers in a game some are saying could qualify as a trap for the visitors, who are still in the playoff race and might get Aaron Rodgers back next week. 

Of course, there’s more interest off the field (as usual) in Cleveland thanks to the firing of executive vice president Sashi Brown yesterday

The experiment of turning over the football operations to people who don’t have much in way of a football background was judged a failure after less than two seasons, and for now Hue Jackson will remain the team’s coach. 

Cleveland already found a new general manager, too, in John Dorsey, who helped put together a Chiefs team that looked good in the first half of the season but not lately. 

Keeping Jackson is certainly interesting given his record (1-27). He’s a great football mind, and it would seem they are acknowledging he’s been coaching with one arm tied behind his back. 

Wonder how this will turn out… 

Dayton Flyers coach Anthony Grant said at the beginning of the week there was no common thread in the foul trouble his team has had to play through early this season — other than it generally involved the big guys. 

After Dayton’s win over Tennessee State, Kostas Antetokounmpo admitted he’d been doing some “risky” things that have gotten him in trouble at times, though. 

He avoided that against the Tigers and turned in a double-double, giving another hint at his vast potential when he can stay on the floor. 

As for avoiding foul trouble, he credited his brother, Giannis: 

“He said when I get my first foul I gotta lay low. I got to play as hard as I can, but as clean as I can. He said, ‘Don’t get those fouls back to back to back.’”

If only everyone had an NBA superstar to go to for counsel, right? 

At any rate, I continue to be very intrigued by the potential of this team. 

After four great years marked mostly by guys who can probably fairly be judged overachievers, this is a team with a lot of raw ability. 

How far away are they from realizing it? 

I’d say the future is bright — whenever it gets here… 

Area graduates are spread out all over the country playing basketball this winter, including a half dozen in the Big Ten. 

The guy getting the most headlines is easily Vincent Edwards, a senior at Purdue. He scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds last night as the 21st-ranked Boilermakers crushed Valparaiso 80-50. 

The Middletown High School product has scored in double figures in all 11 games so far this season. 

Meanwhile, Wayne graduate Ahmad Wagner had two points in five minutes last night for Iowa as the Hawkeyes lost to Iowa State, and former high school teammate D’Mitrik Trice had three points in 30 minutes for Wisconsin as the Badgers lost to Temple on Wednesday night. 

Mark Alstork (Thurgood Marshall/Wright State) had three points in Illinois’ win over Austin Peay on Wednesday night… 

Ohio State football returns to the practice field Friday afternoon to begin work on their meaningless Cotton Bowl matchup with USC. 

The Buckeyes recruiting class grew last night with a verbal commitment from Matthew Baldwin, a three-star prospect from Lake Travis High in Austin, Texas. 

This is raised questions about the status of Emory Jones, a long-time Ohio State commit who has continued playing the recruiting game by visiting Alabama and Auburn. 

Jones is a four-star prospect who apparently still has a spot in OSU’s class -- if he wants it.