I got admonished by more than a few people for needlessly sounding the panic alarm after Sunday's Bengals loss. They are still 4-2 after all, and on a good pace to win nine or ten games, and maybe still make the playoffs.
They still do lead the division, even if they might not after Sunday's tilt in Kansas City, and despite the frustrations over the way the Bengals lost to the Steelers, I'm still bullish on the overall trajectory of the team and it's core.
What was maddening though is that Sunday's loss had Marvin Lewis' fingerprints all over it. From the lack of aggression on fourth and one in the third quarter (this is an excellent look at why Marvin got that call wrong), to overseeing his team's final scoring drive with came with way too much urgency, to standing there helplessly with two timeouts in his back pocket at Pittsburgh prepared to abuse Tony McRae, Marvin had one of his worst days on the Cincinnati sideline.
He had help. I put most of the blame for scoring too quickly on Andy Dalton, and maybe the Steelers are never in position to win if Marvin's once-vaunted defensive line would've shown up, but the Bengals were done no favors by their head coach. Who's in his 16th season. And continues to work with major questions about in-game decison-making and game management hovering over his entire tenure.
The Bengals might soon have enough players to get over the hump. I continue to wonder if they have the coach.
Sunday, the answer was no.
Here's some stuff....
I wrote about Vontaze Burfict for The Athletic. To be honest, I'm tired of writing and talking about Vontaze Burfict. I'm equally tired of listening to people blindly defend the guy, even though he continues to do the same things time and again that both compromise his availability and limit his effectiveness.
The whole act, on and off field is tired.
And if the NFL won't do something, the Bengals should.
UC hoops picked to finish second in The American, behind UCF. This is about what I figured would happen. UCF has a bunch of experienced, they still have BJ Taylor and Tacko Fall, and top-to-bottom, probably the best roster in the league.
I'm probably higher on the Cats than some, trustful that they have the returning pieces to get back to the NCAAs, hopeful that one or two guys that weren't counted on last year can make at least a small leap, and encouraged enough by what I hear about Rashawn Fredericks to believe that there will be a point this season when I stop thinking about how the last one ended.
UC football at Temple: This game will be the difference between the Bearcats finishing with a good record and a great one. There is my UC football take for the day.
Sweet, glorious NBA basketball starts tonight. Here are some quick takes that I don't have a ton of time to elaborate on...
*We are spending too much time talking about the Western Conference. There are three teams in the west that can win it, and neither Houston or the Lakers are more likely to win the title than Boston, which has arguably the best starting five in the league, four guys who could merit Sixth Man of the Year consideration, and the league's best coach. The Boogie factor, KD having an MVP season - you heard it hear - and Golden State's culture blending with its overwhelming talent make them the favorite, of course, but if anyone will dethrone them, it will be the Celtics.
The Lakers will be fine. Never underestimate LeBron. Buy stock in their young nucleus. Pay attention to the way Lonzo plays. Listen closely and hear the silence of his dad. They're the three seed, and a decent bet to win 50. Those who are wondering if LA will even make the playoffs are being foolish.
The Pacers are the third best team in the east.
The Nuggets are the NBA's most entertaining team to watch play basketball, which is different than being the NBA's most entertaining team.
The Raptors are the league's biggest X-factor. I'm guessing the Kawhi thing will work. I won't be completely stunned if it doesn't.
The Knicks will be the most fun 28-win team in franchise history. They've assembled some intriguing guys, they'll have some money to spend, their well-positioned for the draft. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible.
MVP: Kevin Durant
Rookie of the Year: Luke Doncic
The league's best breakout player: Brandon Ingram
Best storyline: Watching John Wall and Dwight Howard co-exist/finding out if Markelle Fultz is actually any good.
League Pass favorite: Nuggets. We need playoff Jokic. Buy the stock now, man.
Not sure who overthought the eighth and ninth inning more last night, Craig Counsell or the Joe Buck and John Smoltz.
Another great Monday Night game last night, this one with Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers vanquishing the Niners. The NFL has been fantastic this season. There's good, healthy QBs playing well all over the league, some must-watch teams, and rules that despite you and I bitching about them, are keeping the better guys on the field. I griped a ton about the on-field product last year. Not now. The league has been entertaining as hell.
Radio Show: Verne Lundquist at 3:45, Paul Dehner Jr. at 4:05, FC Cincinnati's Corben Bone at 5:05, and Mick Cronin at 5:35. Lots of Bengals, some Nick Bosa, and Luke Fickell in between. The fun starts at 3:05 on ESPN1530.