Sports Today: Can the Bengals get well in Cleveland?

The Cincinnati Bengals have a chance to beat the Cleveland Browns for the sixth consecutive time this weekend, and I’m afraid to admit I feel it is likely that will happen. 

If following sports has taught me anything, it is that feeling like you know something is always dangerous, but all signs point to a good day on the lake for the men in stripes. 

They took some important steps forward last week in Green Bay. They seemed to prioritize getting the ball to the most dangerous players without wrecking the flow of the offense. 

RELATED: How can the Bengals manufacture more big plays?

If they continue to refine that plan and execute better, more yards and even points should follow. 

The defense should only get better with Vontaze Burfict back in the middle, and while I like the potential of DeShone Kizer, he’s no Aaron Rodgers. 

Hey, but I managed to talk myself into Johnny Manziel embarrassing the Bengals in his first start two years ago, and… that is not quite what happened. 

The start is important in many football games, but it should be particularly so in this one. 

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The Bengals should be a lot better team when they have the lead than when they are trailing because of the pass rush. That goes for both sides of the ball. 

Cincinnati’s secondary might be so-so, but they can get after the quarterback. 

Cincinnati’s offensive line is bad, especially when everyone knows they have to throw… 

How about Ohio State? 

Rutgers stinks, especially on offense. 

This might be the least challenging game the Silver Bullets face all year, but the Scarlet Knights defense has been respectable. 

I believe the Buckeyes are again hoping to see some man to man and press defense this weekend (It’s what Rutgers coach Chris Ash did at Ohio State when he was defensive coordinator), but I would not be surprised to see RU follow everyone else’s lead and play off. 

Then again, they have been pretty good at taking the ball away, so perhaps Ash would prefer to go down being aggressive. 

That would be another nice challenge for J.T. Barrett to cross off his list of things to do before the Buckeyes play Penn State (one of the originators of the play off in the secondary and attack the line with everyone else style against Ohio State). 

In a fantastic, wide-ranging interview this week, Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said has started getting more aggressive. 

“Yeah, I would’ve said, the last couple of weeks, he’s kind of gotten a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more assertive anticipation. Not waiting to see if it’s there, but he’s fitting into some tight windows but I think he’s fitting because he’s seeing, letting it go instead of waiting in. Sometimes when you wait, protection breaks down instead of the ball being thrown. So, now, I think he’s just getting more confident in trusting Coach Day, Coach Day trusting him with what they like, the receivers, the protection, fitting in. He had a good week of practice so far.” 

That’s a great sign for the prospects Ohio State’s next showing against a highly ranked opponent goes better than the last few... 

Ohio State basketball also got some run yesterday as Chris Hotlmann met with reporters in Columbus. 

He says defense is going to be the emphasis for his first Buckeyes team, which makes sense because there’s no guarantee they are going to be able to score much. 

Perhaps some offensive games will take a jump under new management, but I’ll believe it when I see it. 

I am fairly certain there is enough athleticism on this team to lock up a lot of opponents, though, if they buy into the mind-set necessary to do such a thing. 

Bonus: That type of discipline has been lacking in the program for a few years and would also probably benefit the offense from an execution standpoint. 

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