The Jacksonville Jaguars are a five-point favorite this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Will it be that close?
RELATED: NFL weekend forecast
The only reason to think the Bengals might win this game is nothing indicates they should win it and the NFL is weird like that.
Football Outsiders rank Jacksonville seventh in the league overall, which might be high but is nonetheless an indication the Jaguars have improved a lot.
The Bengals are 23rd, which seems about right.
There’s a big gap between the Bengals and No. 24 Tampa Bay with an even larger difference between the Buccaneers and No. 25 Giants.
Cincinnati beat the awful Browns and Colts (plus 10th-ranked Buffalo somehow), so we know for certain this Cincinnati squad isn’t terrible. That counts for something I guess.
If styles make fights, this one does not bode well for Marvin Lewis’ team.
The Jaguars can’t stop the run, but the Bengals can’t run.
The Bengals are a decent passing team, but the Jaguars have the No. 1 pass defense and scoring defense.
The Bengals are near the bottom of the league in turnover margin, and the Jaguars are near the top.
Stranger things have happened, but it’s hard to see Sunday going well for Cincinnati.
Prediction: Jaguars 27, Bengals 13.
Happier days should be ahead for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Before the season, their trip to Iowa looked like a classic trap game.
Now I’m thinking the opposite might be true.
RELATED: 5 things to know about Iowa
The Hawkeyes haven’t been great this season, but they are a name brand and have been good enough they shouldn’t have any trouble getting Ohio State’s attention.
The emotion might not be at the same level this week, but the Buckeyes don’t have to be at their best. They just have to play well and they shouldn’t have much trouble.
The Hawkeyes want to make you patiently drive the ball down the field, something Ohio State has gotten a lot better at doing lately.
Iowa has a standout at each level of the defense (end Anthony Nelson, linebacker Jose Jewell and cornerback Josh Jackson ) and a star running bak (Akrum Wadley) but that’s about it.
Like almost everyone in the Big Ten this season, the Hawkeyes’ offensive line isn’t very good.
SPORTS TODAY: Does Ohio State need help to reach playoff?
The advanced stats for Iowa’s defensive line are surprisingly bad, too, but I’m not going to assume Ohio State will just push the Hawkeyes around Saturday.
If they do, this will be another Nebraska situation.
I’m looking for it to be closer than that because Iowa is better-coached and tougher-minded than the Cornhuskers, who don’t know what to do with what they have.
This is probably a workmanlike Ohio State win.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Iowa 10.
The high school football playoffs start tonight.
I will be in Hilliard to cover Fairmont’s game at Hilliard Bradley.
The Firebirds have enjoyed a great turnaround from a 1-9 season. Now they get an undefeated team looking for its first playoff win in its second appearance.
Two area teams won poll titles — Trotwood-Madison and Marion Local.
Can Jeff Graham take the Rams to the promised land again? It’s always fun to watch them with Ra’veion Hargrove.
The undefeated Flyers may have to beat Coldwater again to make it back to Stark County. First they have a rematch with Fort Recovery while the Cavaliers open against resurgent Bethel.
- Playoffs find Franklin, New Richmond together again
- Rickard, Wildcats like playing the takeaway game
- McClain brings big-play skills to Indians as a sophomore
One of the more intriguing matchups involving an area team is in Region 4, where Fairfield has drawn defending state champion St. Xavier.
The Indians have two of the area’s best players in Jackson Carman and Malik Vann, and this won’t be the first time they have seen the Bombers, who are led by Wisconsin-bound quarterback Chase Wolf.
Last season St. X knocked coach Jason Krause’s team out of the playoffs.
Could that give the Indians a mental edge?