The Battle For Ohio

There’s just something about the state of Ohio that’s inherently contentious, some fighting spirit there that begs to be resolved, or as resolved as it possibly can be. The Cavaliers have been to the NBA finals more than once, but have yet to hoist a trophy. The Reds haven’t been able to get past the Cardinals in recent years. And don’t even remind me about the Bengals and their four straight trips to the playoffs only to lose in the first round. Well, this year they just might not even have to play in the first round.

Yes, the Cincinnati Bengals are undefeated at 7-0, one of four such teams left, but they didn’t really have their A game last week in defeating the walking wounded (AKA Pittsburgh Steelers), so what can we expect from them on Thursday night? And how about those Cleveland Browns, who found some kind of magic for a few games in Brian Hoyer… um, oops. I mean in Josh McCown. But he’s not playing tonight. Johnny “Football” is, and what can we honestly expect from him against one of the league’s best defenses?

It’s the Battle for Ohio, and the ramifications can begin once it ends. If the Bengals can go to 8-0 they effectively lock up the division, and they’re still in the running for the top 2 seeds in the AFC (and that all-important first round bye). If the Browns win they can possibly save their season, and if Johnny Manziel has a good outing maybe he can supplant McCown as the everyday quarterback of a losing football franchise. Most eyes are going to be on the Cincinnati defense vs. that Browns offense, but I’m watching to see what Andy Dalton shows up. Hopefully not the same one who was M.I.A. in their last Thursday night battle.

So, as a special Ohio edition, here’s how you should treat players from this contest in fantasy…

THE MUST-STARTS

A.J. Green
Andy Dalton
Giovani Bernard
Tyler Eifert
Jeremy Hill
Gary Barnidge

Yes, the only player from Cleveland you can trust is the Barn door. I mean, Gary Barnidge. He has been just as consistent as anyone on any team over the past month, so I’m a believer, even against the tough Bengals defense. As for that Bengals offense, I’m all in on their playmakers against a defense that leaves a lot to be desired. Green should shine, and bring Dalton along with him, but the running game will be featured as well with both backs having the ability to get a lot of fantasy points.

Anyone else you play from either team will be a wish and a prayer, and you don’t want to start off your week with a wish and a prayer. However, if you’re the gambling type and you play daily fantasy then Marvin Jones is a sneaky play here. He’s cheap, and every few games he does go off for points. He was limited last week, so maybe this is the week he brings it. If you’re also feeling lucky you can try your hand with Travis Benjamin, who seems to rack up the yardage with Manziel under center, and who’s also relatively inexpensive in daily games.

So, who will come out on top? I always go with the team that is playing better right now, and that team is the Cincinnati Bengals. They should be able to dispatch the Browns rather easily in this one, force a few turnovers, and run the ball often to seal the deal. Bragging rights for Ohio, by way of Cincy.

Pick: BENGALS.

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