Greetings and happy Thanksgiving. The last time I checked in was from St. Thomas, where it was 88 degrees outside with a beach just outside the place I was typing fro.
Today, it's in the mid-40s, the sun is not out, and if I look outside, I'll see a half-fallen tree that nearly toppled on top of my daughter's swingset on Wednesday.
I called the three UC games in St. Thomas, but aside from that assignment, I used the time off the mainland as an excuse to get away. No blog. Very little on the radio. Some on Twitter, but not nearly as much as usual.
Some stuff did happen I feel the need to weigh in on before I run through this week's guesses, so here we go.
*UC played three times, won twice, lost once, and turned the ball over 283,392 times. I wasn't as fornlorn as some over the way the Bearcats played in paradise. Yes, it was frustrating to watch them miss a jillion free throws down the stretch and in overtime against Bowling Green, and you're being fair if you're wondering what kind of Jarron Cumberland UC will be getting during a hellacious December. I thought the main positive from the three tilts was what it did for the young guys. Mika Adams-Woods was very good - and possibly the main reason why the Cats won against Valparaiso - and I think you can see Zach Harvey starting to get it. The game is slowlyl slowing down for him.
But man, the turnovers. If UC remains as sloppy with the ball as they were in the Paradise Jam, this season is going to be an uphill battle. Many were unforced. More than a few were downright dumb. Most were immensely frustrating. The margin for error for the Bearcats is way too small.
Especially if free throw shooting is going to be an issue.
*Andy Dalton got his job back. Here are my three main thoughts..
1) I can't fault the people who work for or run the Bengals for wanting to win football games. Andy Dalton gives the Bengals a better chance of winning than Ryan Finley.
2) Ryan Finley will never be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback.
3) I'm very skeptical that this was Zac Taylor's decision.
4) You're being fair if you're fearful that a few good games turned in by Dalton will compel management to keep him around, extend his contract, and not keep his replacement. It seems like the exact kind of unreasonable thing the Bengals would do, because it's the kind of thing (see Lewis, Marvin) they've done before.
5) I'm told on a regular basis that no one cares about the Bengals, yet I see and hear A LOT of people weighing with their takes on who should be the starting quarterback for an 0-11 team.
*Obi Toppin took a star turn. Welcome to what the rest of us already kind of knew, America. Hell of a run by the Flyers in Maui.
*The UC football team improved to 10-1. 10-1 is good, right? Yes.
It is fair to wonder if the Bearcats can win the next two with Desmond Ridder playing the way he is, right?
I'd like to see Ben Bryant get some snaps on Friday in Memphis. Really, what's the harm?
Here are the guesses.
NFL tilts of interest.
Bengals (+3) over the Jets. They covered last week, depending on what you got it at. They covered two weeks ago. They break through this week against red hot New York, and I can guarantee you there will be a "well, you know..." surge that will carry some into thinking the Bengals are winning on the road in Cleveland next week.
Which, they're not.
Bengals 23 Jets 17.
The turkey is cooking, and I have a Thanksgiving flight to Memphis to catch...
Pittsburgh (+2) over Cleveland.
Chicago/Detroit under 39
Dallas (-6.5) over Buffalo
Two team teaser with New Orleans (-1) over Atlanta and Green Bay (-0.5) over the Giants.
Green Bay (-6.5) over the Giants.
Indianapolis (-2.5) over Tennessee
College games of interest....
Cincinnati (+11) over Memphis. I think Vegas is reacting a little too strongly to UC's recent road and offensive struggles, and I think we see some Ben Bryant magic, enough to make us debate what the QB situation should be for the title game.
Mississippi State (-2.5) over Ole Miss.
Kentucky (-3) over Louisville.
Ohio State (-9) over Michigan. (Also teasing Cincinnati up to +17 and OSU down to -3)
Oklahoma State (+12) over Oklahoma
Ball State (-3) over Miami.
NFL mark in 2019: 36-25
College mark in 2019: 35-31-1