The Cincinnati Bengals play the Minnesota Vikings this weekend.
They probably won’t win — “they” being the Bengals, of course.
The Vikings rank sixth in the NFL according to Football Outsiders with a top eight offense and defense.
The Bengals are No. 20 overall — 21st on offense and 19th on defense in rankings that are adjusted for strength of opponent.
Beyond that, this team has not shown the ability to play above itself, at least not for more than a half.
It’s nice the Vikings bring back former Bengals like coach Mike Zimmer and cornerback Terence Newman because otherwise it would be pretty hard to drum up storylines. ›› Zimmer says Marvin Lewis should be allowed to coach Bengals as long as he wants
(Although ESPN helped with this ridiculous story ranking the Browns ahead of the Bengals in terms of desirability of the head coaching job if they come open after the season.)
At full strength, the Bengals could certainly give the Vikings a game if not beat them.
Still banged up, though, it’s hard to see that happening.
The defense isn’t likely to have a very good day.
I will be curious to see if the offense can come back with a respectable showing after that embarrassment against the Bears.
This is another chance for Andy Dalton to be more than just another average quarterback. He could actually do something to overcome the various adversities his team has been facing, but history says he probably won’t.
Score: Vikings 28, Bengals 10
I guess it’s funny because this is the time of year we start writing a lot about guys playing for their jobs.
All indications are there has been no time this season when Dalton’s starting status has been in jeopardy, but one has to think that will change if/when the Marvin Lewis era comes to an end.
He’ll at least have to earn the job for a new mentor, right?
Anyway, there’s a little intrigue for you.
We often pretend that everything is static in sports, especially the higher levels. Once a player reaches a certain level, he can’t exceed it. He’ll just play at that level until age or injury necessitates a decline.
I’m tempted to say Dalton is what he is. He has been better overall the last two seasons than he was before 2015, but he hasn’t been as good as he was in 2015 when everything was about as close to perfect as it gets in this league (until he got hurt).
Maybe he can still get better. Maybe a new voice in the locker room would make a difference.
He’s good enough physically to succeed, but has he stalled out mentally? He’s not efficient enough in his decisions or his throws to overcome being just average as a passer and scrambler.
I’d like to see him get some real competition at some point to see what that brings out.
The nice thing about the current CBA, which has been a disaster for the on-field product, is that it allows teams to carry even a highly drafted quarterback along with a veteran without breaking the bank.
You could take a quarterback in the first or second round two or three years in a row and see who develops without having to make a decision until rookie deals start running out.
Not enough teams take advantage of that, whether they are pushing their aging starter or just waiting to see who might emerge from a group of young prospects…
We got our first chance to talk to some Dayton Flyers since they lost to Penn, and there weren’t a lot of concrete answers.
That’s probably fair, though.
I think with so many new faces, figuring out who needs to be where and when is just going to take some time.
I’m also willing to believe with a lot of young guys getting big minutes, sometimes they think they’re playing hard and they really aren’t.
Sometimes it takes time to learn there are some higher gears to access, and they need to be accessed for a longer period of time.
The return of one of the older guys with experience — Xeyrius Williams — could help both physically and mentally, too…
Meanwhile, the high school basketball season is starting to heat up.
We’ve got a good group of high-scoring Division I prospects on the boys’ side and at least a pair of highly regarded freshmen in the girls game.
Marc Pendleton featured one of the latter in a story this week: Mickayla Perdue of Springfield.
She already broke the school single-game scoring record for the Wildcats, who are 1-2 after losing to Centerville on Wednesday night.
She’s been offered by Detroit.
The other freshman already making headlines is Bree Hall, who is leading Wayne in scoring at 10.6 points per game. Hall’s scholarship offers already include Ohio State and Michigan State.
Trotwood-Madison senior Shai McGruder is leading the GWOC in scoring at 24.5 points per game. She’s signed with New Mexico.