Greetings for the final time from my home office in my house in the West End. One of my two New Year's resolutions is to make more of an effort to have a daily blog post (bonus points if you can guess the other), which during the first week of 2019, I've completely failed to do.
Not good there's been big local sports news I've wanted to chime in on. Fortunately, there's a podcast page with all of the shows I've hosted in case you need hours of Bengals coaching search takes, but I do wish I would've shared some of the things that were on my mind then, that seem almost pointless to be writing about now.
Just for the record, though, here's a brief recap of what I've said this week about the search for Marvin Lewis' replacement.
*Marvin's ouster left me feeling unfulfilled. His tenure, which started off with such excitement, was not supposed to end the way it did.
*I had no problem with Marvin Lewis making the case for his friend Hue Jackson to be the next head coach.
*I think that toward the end, the discussion about the direction of the Bengals became too much about Marvin and what fans didn't like about him (I was guilty of this), instead of the best ways to improve the franchise.
*My coaching preference, in order...
2) Eric Bieniemy
3) Josh McDaniels
999) Anyone who started the season on Marvin's coaching staff.
999,999,999,999,999) Hue Jackson.
We'll see. This is an important hire, as all coaching hires are. But in the coming years, there are going to be questions about what to do with Andy Dalton, how to handle AJ Green's age and contract, possible shifts atop the organization, a potential stadium debate, Baker Mayfield, a new CBA, and God knows what else. Plus, fans are at their tipping point after three wasted seasons. The Bengals cannot afford to get this wrong.
The main reason why I haven't been able to get my resolution is started is that since returning from the Military Bowl late Monday evening, I've spent the week preparing to move. My wife and I closed on a house on the west side last month. After nearly seven years of downtown/West End living, we've decided that our 20-month old daughter needed a yard, and with my wife's family from the west side of town, we wanted her to grow up around her cousins.
I've loved living in the house I'm moving from, as well as the two places I lived in once I move from Sharonville at the end of my first marriage in 2012, and to be honest, one day I hope we can move back. It's fun been to have a front row seat for downtown's growth, and I wish we could be here to watch FC Cincinnati's new stadium rise just blocks from where we've lived.
But I'm excited to learn about my new neighborhood, and to get a feel for what makes the west side special. The move happens this weekend, and once it does, maybe I can blog a little more.
This sets up as maybe the best wild card weekend we've had in a long time. Four interesting matchups, four spreads under six points, and three under 2.5. The movers better be finished by the time the Bearcats play at 1:00, and they better be long gone by 4:30....
Chargers (+2.5) over Baltimore. LA2 has the best roster in the AFC, they've won eight games away from home, and after juts playing - and losing to - the Ravens in week 16, I say the quick turnaround helps Anthony Lynn's team. In what's likely to be a close, low-scoring game (taking the under), I'll take the future hall of fame quarterback who's getting points ahead of the run-first rookie (who I love) that's shaky with ball security.
Dallas (-2) over Seattle. There is one team in these playoffs that seems to hinge entirely on how much their running back can carry them to victory. The Cowboys are that team I think Ezekiel Elliott can have success against the Seahawks, and as much as I've loved watching Russell Wilson this season, Dallas' defense is just a little too formidable for me to have much faith in the Seahawks' ability to sustain drives. I like the home team, and the under.
Indianapolis (+1) over Houston. The Colts have finally given Andrew Luck an offensive line to play behind, and he's now one of the five most exciting players in the league. That, to me, is the difference. I could go either way in this game, and as a huge DeShaun Watson guy, I'd love to see him have a breakout run in the postseason, but give me Luck and the team not coached by Bill O'Brien.
Philadelphia (+6.5) over Chicago. I felt okay about this when the line was at +5.5, a little better when it was at 6, and now really good with it at +6.5. I think the Bears are going to win at home, with Nick Foles finding out that playing great defenses on the road in the playoffs is a different animal than what he was asked to do during last year's Super Bowl run, but I don't trust Chicago's offense quite enough to cover nearly a touchdown, especially with the pace they play at. I like Chicago as a value buy to get to the Super Bowl (+650), and I believe that people dismiss Mitchell Trubisky a little too hastily, but if you're given me more than four points, I'm taking them.
Super Bowl pick: New Orleans (+240) over Chargers. These look like the best two teams right now. The Rams showed too many holes over the final few weeks, and there's no one in the NFC I think can go into the Superdome and win, even as shaky as the Saints have looked in recent weeks.
I don't trust a team with a lousy run defense that has Andy Reid as a head coach, and this version of the Patriots isn't good enough to put blind faith in them. The Chargers are better away from home, they have a future hall of fame quarterback, they can run the ball, and they win on defense off the edge. I love the value for the Chargers to win the whole thing at +1500, even though I have the Saints winning, and even if it might blow up in my face if Baltimore's defense does what it's capable of on Sunday, I like the New Orleans/Chargers combo at +1500 as well.
And with that, I'm off to Bridgetown.
Last week: 11-5
This season: 141-108-7