The Super Bowl matchup is set.
Blake Bortles nearly granted us a big game with no one to root against, but Tom Brady and Bill Belickick would not be denied.
Then the Philadelphia Eagles crushed Minnesota in the nightcap, saving us from two weeks of stories about how it may or may not be fair the Vikings were getting to play a home game.
The Eagles are an impressive team to say the least, having hardly missed a beat despite losing star quarterback Carson Wentz.
These playoffs so far have been interesting to watch from a Bengals perspective.
The AFC champion is the standard-bearer, perhaps in impossible-to-reach ideal for every team, so everyone is always measuring themselves against the Patriots.
And then the NFC champ is, well, perhaps the 2015 Bengals without the last few seconds of that playoff game against the Steelers?
Jacksonville also creates an interesting comparison to Cincinnati, as mentioned last week at this time…
In case you missed it, Mike Brown sat down with the team website’s writer, Geoff Hobson, to talk about some of the things that have been swirling about his team since the end of the regular season.
He confirmed those wins over the Lions and the Ravens played a role in his decision to pursue keeping Marvin Lewis as head coach, though he threw some cold water on the idea the team is going to be active in free agency…
Meanwhile, the weekend wasn’t the greatest for local college basketball.
The Ohio State men’s team shook off a bad start to blast Minnesota in a game that was played at Madison Square Garden for some reason, and the Dayton women rolled on with a 66-55 win over George Washington.
The Buckeyes and Flyers are still leading their respective conferences.
Also worth noting: Future Buckeye Justin Ahrens broke the MAC career scoring record as Versailles beat Fort Recovery on Friday night…
Things went considerably worse for the Flyer men, who were pretty much dominated by league-leader Rhode Island at the arena on Saturday.
The impression I get from some of Anthony Grant’s postgame comments indicate this has officially become a rebuilding year for the Flyers:
“I thought our guys competed,” Grant said. “At the end of the day, Rhode Island was the better team today.”
Obviously that was always on the table considering the graduation of a great senior class and the coaching change, but there’s enough raw material to work with I thought it possible this could still be a top-half-of-the-league squad.
It’s getting pretty late to continue thinking they will find any consistency before the end of the season, though.
Also instructive were Rams coach Dan Hurley’s impression of the Flyers:
“Dayton’s got some really exciting young players,” Hurley said. “It’s a little scary with Greek Freak Junior (Kostas Antetokounmpo) and (Jalen) Crutcher and (Jordan) Davis and what they’re going to look like down the road. We knew it was going to be a great crowd, great atmosphere, but we’re pretty battle tested.”
Again there’s potential there.
How much can be turned into production by the end of the season?…
Wright State had a rough weekend, too, as both basketball teams lost.
Scott Nagy’s men fell 66-61 at Milwaukee after allowing the Panthers to get off to a hot start shooting the ball.
“Offense wasn’t our problem, defense was our problem,” Nagy said. “In the first half we gave up 60 percent (shooting), and that gave them a lot of confidence.
“So then it was a fight. Had we shown up in the first half and been better, we could have maybe taken some of that confidence away from them, maybe it would have been a different story. But we weren’t any good in the first half. That was the problem.”
The Raiders dropped into a tie with Northern Kentucky for first place in the Horizon League. Both teams are 7-1 in league play.
Next up is a visit from Detroit on Friday night…
Katrina Merriweather’s women’s team also suffered a close loss, theirs 64-61 to IUPU.
She said she saw it coming.
“We didn’t play well two games ago and I knew this was going to happen if we didn’t become more efficient,” Merriweather said. “When you play a better team you have to have less mistakes or they are going to get you.”
That dropped WSU a game behind Horizon League leaders IUPUI and Green Bay in the standings, though more than half the league slate remains to be played.
»ARCHDEACON: WSU’s ‘G.O.A.T.’ soars to the top again
The Raiders play at Cleveland State on Thursday night...
And finally: There were some Ohio State football happenings over the weekend.
After the current Buckeyes got back to work at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, J.T. Barrett hit the field in the East-West Shrine Game to try to burnish his draft stock.
Meanwhile, his third and final quarterbacks coach in Columbus, Ryan Day, might be headed to join Mike Vrabel’s new Tennessee Titans staff.
Vrabel might also poach former Ohio State assistant Ed Warinner, who was also reported to be joining Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s staff over the weekend.
Ohio State’s Johnnie Dixon on forgoing NFL Draft: ‘Sometimes it’s bigger than the money’ https://t.co/4D5V8PmAbb— David Jablonski (@DavidPJablonski) January 19, 2018
Where Warinner lands could end up being crucial in the Big Ten East race this fall.
For all the attention quarterback has gotten, the bigger disappointment of the Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor has been offensive line play.
Warinner did a poor job coordinating the offense in Columbus, but he was a superb line coach, first turning an under-achieving unit into an elite one then rebuilding that group into one that paved the way for a national championship.