I'm resisting the urge to....say.....that.....the....Bengals...will....win....the.....AFC.....North.
It's easy, and fun, to be slave to early-season NFL results. People around the country today will surely bury the Patriots, who looked very shaky against a determined Jaguars team yesterday, and many will probably hurt themselves trying to have the hottest Tampa Bay Buccaneers take, but it's not hard to look at the AFC North and see an opening for the Bengals.
Mainly because the Steelers played a game yesterday that was eerily reminiscent of their playoff loss to the Jaguars, and largely because their defense looks slow and very un-intimidating. They still can strike quickly on offense, and yesterday's home loss can mainly be attributed to a team and a quarterback that are both the real deal, but at the very least, a division that once seemed like it was Pittsburgh's to win is at the very least now wide open, and you might be tempted to call...the....Bengals....the...frontrunner.
Two things give me pause. One is the Joe Mixon injury, which I would love to simply assume with be a-okay once he returns in two weeks. The other is the Bengals' own track record against the Steelers. In each of the four division title-winning seasons of the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals have beaten Pittsburgh at least once. I find it hard to imagine that they can dethrone the defending champs without at least earning a split.
And, of course, we're just two weeks in.
But, these are the only two weeks I have to react to. My reaction to them is that, right now, the Bengals look like the best team in this division.
Here's some stuff, mainly just random, unconnected, thoughts...
Remember when everyone insisted that the Bengals draft Zane Gonzalez?
Has there been a quarterback with an odder NFL career than Ryan Fitzpatrick? He's played for seven different organizations over 14 seasons, he will likely surpass the 200 TD toss mark, he's lost 20 more starts than he's won, and he's probably just taken Jamies Winston's job in Tampa while currently leading the league in like seven different categories. Because I'm a nerd, his career fascinates me. I need a life.
Hue Jackson and his staff had a perfect gameplan to beat the Saints, and for the most part it was executed extremely well. I like to make fun of Hue, but his team was very well-prepped for New Orleans.
Twitter can be brutal during college football Saturdays and NFL Sundays, especially when your team isn't involved. Go on at any time, and you're guaranteed to see someone bitching about officiating (I've participated on numerous occasions), but the roughing the passer rules have taken this to a whole new level. It's unbearable.
Ryan Day's good sportsmanship on Saturday night was much appreciated by some of us, less by others. He's my new favorite football coach.
After Luke Fickell, of course. I wrote about what his program is doing early yesterday morning. And yes, I'm well aware that the Bearcats have played three pushovers.
The games mean nothing, but watching Jim Riggleman pull Matt Harvey on Friday and Cody Reed on Saturday and then losing, was maddening.
But, watching Cody Reed dominate good Cubs hitters on Saturday was a lot of fun.
I don't think Jim Riggleman should be the manager next year.
FC Cincinnati might be the best team in the USL. Toronto might be the worst. Yet the two have combined to play two close, exceptionally entertaining games.
The LA Rams are scary good.
The Detroit Lions are scary bad.
Shouldn't Nick Senzel be getting reps in center field instead of left field? Or at least, shouldn't he be playing both?
I think everyone has given their Josh Gordon take too prematurely. There's more to this story.
Is anyone else going to ask about the timing of the Larry Davis retirement announcement at UC? It came down weeks very close to the season beginning, dumped late in the afternoon hours before a Bengals home prime time game? This doesn't seem odd to anyone?
These men truly did Seize The Dey.
I'd provide some links, but I'm taking my mom to breakfast for her birthday. The Tony and Mo Football Show is at 3:05 on ESPN1530, then I have SportsTalk and the Inside Pitch at 6:05 on 700WLW. Thank you for reading, and to you for you being you.