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I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming right now and the Bengals aren’t leading the AFC North

I don’t know how long this feeling will last, but I sure don’t want it to go away. There I was in the basement command center getting the snack table all set and figuring the local channels would have me watching Jets-Patriots or some other game because just 14% of the United States was set to get the Bengals-Ravens game. I just assumed this part of Ohio wouldn’t make the cut because the NFL’s TV rules are a huge pain in the ass.

Then I turned on the TV. There it was: Bengals-Ravens. I should’ve known right there that Sunday would be a special day. Little did I know that by 4 ET, the Bengals would be leading the division, Ja’Marr Chase would all but have the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year title wrapped up, and I’d be making football plans in my head for the November 7 Browns-Bengals game in Cincinnati.

Even crazier is the fact that the Bengals have a legitimate defense. The secondary isn’t a complete mess. They don’t take dumb personal foul penalties. They have a pair of high-motor defensive ends, and the defense as a whole is in the top five in points allowed.

Things could fall apart from here on out, but for this Monday morning, this is one helluva feeling, especially when we’re talking about a team that hasn’t beaten Baltimore on the road since December 31, 2017.

• Now, let’s get to Clay’s Tennessee Titans and that massive win over the Chiefs. How big was that one? The Titans now have a 91% probability of making the playoffs. I know, I know…they were supposed to make the playoffs. Ah, but now Tennessee fans need to be thinking about a battle with the Bills for the crucial first-round bye. Is that crazy talk? Not at all. According to Tankathon.com, the Titans have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL. There are three games left against teams with a .500 or better record: Rams, Saints and Steelers.

Tennessee finishes its season at home against the 49ers, home against the Dolphins and on the road at Houston. It’s not rat poison, Clay can start thinking about the possibilities of a bye in January.

• Speaking of the Chiefs, unless something changes fast, Mahomes, his annoying brother and his annoying wife will be enjoying January at home where they will annoy the Chiefs quarterback. KC is down to a 26% probability of making the playoffs and has the No. 1 toughest remaining schedule.

• As for the NFC, the playoffs are pretty much set. The only remaining question is which team below .500 will snag the final playoff spot. The Saints (3-2) pretty much control their own destiny at this point. I know, it’s early to be talking like that, but a win tonight pretty much locks down a playoff berth in a top-heavy NFC.

• Chew on this at the water cooler this morning — the Falcons(!) are a tiebreaker (with the Vikings) out of the playoff hunt. Seriously. Even the 3-4 Bears with a quarterback that is completely lost out there have a decent shot of getting stomped by the top of the NFC in mid-January. The Bears could fire Matt Nagy and the replacement could make the playoffs. That’s how crazy it is when you go to seven playoff teams.

• Moving along, there were two moments from Sunday’s games that touched my heart. One was Tom Brady going over to talk to a little boy who’d been through quite a bit in his young life. More on that one later today. And the other moment was the dad at the 49ers game who threw the kids in ponchos and took them to Sunday night football in a driving rain. It melted my heart and brought back memories of my own father throwing me into the truck in late November to go watch Ohio high school football playoff games.

The boys will be talking fondly about this one for the rest of their lives.

https://twitter.com/JoeKinseyexp/status/1452425140827037704

• Sunday, I published an email from Bill C. in Mississippi who wanted to see the best high school football stadiums. Bill’s not looking specifically for $60 million complexes in Texas. He’s seeking those unique stadiums that have stood the test of time. He wants to see those stadiums that have stories to tell.

Cincinnati Enquirer sports editor Jason Hoffman, who’s a TNML member, who jumped all over this subject and it’s a very good one. All you have to say in Ohio is Elder and the Pit. Instant fear.

Jason writes:

Any time high school stadiums come up, The Pit at Elder should be mentioned. I’m sure you’re aware, but it really is unique in that it’s basically the backyard for an entire block of houses and is the lowest point on the block. It’s also a concrete horseshoe, basically Ohio Stadium on a smaller scale. Back before they put in artificial grass, there were some legendary mud bowls played there and it’s just an awesome place to take in a game.

Love the morning screencaps, enjoy your Sunday.

• That should be enough to get your football juices flowing this week. We’re deep into it right now, fellas. Football, football, football. This is that exact moment in the year we dream about in April when college basketball ends. Don’t lose focus this week. Our full attention should be on the CFB Final Four, Heisman odds, the NFL playoffs, gambling, etc.

Oh, and it’s the final week of the Thursday Night Mowing League.

Have a great week,

Email: joekinsey@gmail.com

Numbers from :

https://twitter.com/NoahJacobson12/status/1452394578229747724

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Written by Joe Kinsey

I'm an Ohio guy, born in Dayton, who roots for Ohio State and can handle you guys destroying the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and everything associated with Columbus.

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