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5 sports storylines to watch this week

Battle of Ohio: The matchup between Ohio’s two NFL teams has been more of a skirmish of late. The Cincinnati Bengals have won seven of the last nine games against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns do hold current bragging rights with the last win, a 34-24 victory in Cleveland. That’s where the teams hook up 1 p.m. Sunday. The Browns will focus on stopping the Bengals’ triple-threat offense of quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Giovani Bernard and receiver A.J. Green. The Bengals will focus on stopping … well, since the trade of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden’s thumb injury, that’s TBA.

Rounding third: The search for a Reds’ October ends this week — good or bad. After a three-game series with the New York Mets today through Wednesday, Cincinnati hosts the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game clash Friday through next Sunday. The series will help decide the two NL wild cards for the postseason. It will also factor into the NL Central title should the St. Louis Cardinals collapse. The Reds and Pirates hold both wild card spots, but the Washington Nationals are closing fast.

Open-wheel excitement: The Dayton Auto Racing Fan Club hosts USAC stars and cars on Tuesday prior to its membership meeting. DARF’s USAC Night offers race fans a chance to rub elbows with an all-star roster. Invited to attend are Earl and Berneice Baltes, Gary Bettenhausen, Tom Bigelow, Donald Davidson, Tony Elliott, Jack Hewitt, the Hoffman Auto Racing team, Bob Jenkins, Dick Jordan, Gary Lee, Mack McClellan, Johnny Vance and Matt Westfall. The event will be held at Celebrations Banquet Center on Stop Eight Road (formerly Haer’s Party House) near Vandalia. The event begins at 5 p.m. with an all-you-can-eat cookout for $5. The DARF membership meeting follows at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.

GMC tough: If the Lakota West Firebirds want to challenge for a Greater Miami Conference football title, it starts Friday. Lakota West (3-1, 1-0 GMC) hosts Sycamore (4-0, 1-0 GMC) in a mid-season showdown. The Firebirds’ lone loss came in a 27-24 setback to Winton Woods in Week 1.

On the hunt: Deer hunting season begins for archers on Saturday and runs through Feb. 2, 2014. According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, about 205,000 bowhunters will participate. Last year archers took 85,432 deer, up 3 percent from 2011. Crossbow hunters bagged another 47,496 deer and longbow hunters 37,936 more.

— Greg Billing

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