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Sports Today: Cincinnati Bengals key to victory against the Bills

The Cincinnati Bengals are back home this weekend after breaking into the win column against the Browns. 

Will the rejuvenating effects of a weekend vacation on Lake Erie carry over against the 3-1 Buffalo Bills? 

There’s no doubt the vibe around the team was different this week, but this is a sneakily big game. 

For all the positives of the past two games following a disastrous start, the Bengals could be just 60 minutes of football away from 1-4 with the Pittsburgh Steelers up next. 

This is a fascinating matchup because I’m not sure anyone knows how good either of these teams are. 

The consensus would probably be the Bills have outperformed expectations while the Bengals have underperformed. 

Cincinnati let one get away against Buffalo last year, and I see the Bengals getting payback this time around. 

A handful of explosive plays from a superior group of offensive skill players figures to be key for Cincinnati because both of these defenses have looked great so far this season, neither team has an offensive line to brag about and both quarterbacks are average. 

Prediction: Bengals 17, Bills 10 

How about Ohio State? 

The Buckeyes play host to a Maryland team that seems to be getting lumped in with dregs Ohio State faced the past three weeks. 

That is a mistake. The Terrapins are no world-beaters, but they are better — probably a lot better — than Army, UNLV and Rutgers. 

The raw stats say Maryland has a good offense and a bad defense. 

The advanced stats (courtesy Football Outsiders) say they are right in the middle of the pack in both areas. 

One thing to keep in mind about Maryland is they have some dudes. 

There are generally two ways teams are built: A handful of future pros surrounded by holes or average across the board with few difference-makers. 

The Terrapins are the former while Wisconsin and Iowa are usually examples of the latter. 

PREVIEW: Ohio State hosts Maryland

The jury is still out on new quarterback Max Bortenschlager, a sophomore who was a three-star recruit forced into duty after not one but two season-ending injuries at that position, but running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison are dangerous and the receiving corps is pretty deep. 

This should be a nice challenge for the Ohio State defense after two weeks off, but the Buckeyes have too much firepower on offense. 

I’ll be interested to see if they work on the running game more after focusing on the pass since the loss to Oklahoma. 

Prediction: Ohio State 38, Maryland 21. 

How’s this for a start to the Reds Hot Stove season: They could be in contention for Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. 

We called him the Japanese Babe Ruth yesterday, but he could also qualify as the overseas equivalent to Hunter Greene as a prospect who could make it in the majors as a hitter or a pitcher. 

(I doubt either of them are going to hit 700 home runs, to be honest.) 

Who knows how this works out, but it’s encouraging to see the Reds continue to try to turn over every stone to acquire talent. 

Their willingness to at least consider this type of financial investment is a good sign, too. 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Reds reveal interesting winter plans

I know the economics of baseball can be discouraging to small-market teams, but I think it’s more a matter of smart investing than not having the capital to keep a winning team together. 

They were proactive (though not soon enough) in selling off assets once the downturn started in 2014, but I still believe they would have tried to spend the money to keep Johnny Cueto if they were still as close to contending as they were in 2012... 

The high school football season got off to a great start Thursday night with Sidney topping Tippecanoe 49-42 in a barn-burner

The Yellow Jackets have a Big Ten running back and buzz building throughout Shelby County. 

“It takes a little bit longer now to go to the grocery story,” Sidney coach Adam Doenges said. “People used to turn and go the other way down the aisle to avoid me. Now, everywhere you go, people want to talk about (Sidney football). There is an excitement, no matter where you go in town. It’s neat. That’s what high school football should be like.”

Gotta love it.  

RELATED: Franklin standout commits to Cincinnati

Here’s a look at the rest of the high school football schedule this weekend, including Wayne at Beavercreek, Northmont at Springfield and Catholic Central at Greenon. 

The Fighting Irish are 3-3 but on the cusp of the playoffs. Plus they have an influx of new players since the start of the season

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