TRIBE ROLLS INTO CHICAGO 3.5 GAMES OUT, BROWNS, BENGALS PICK UP HUGE WINS
Sunday was a good day to be an Ohio sports fan. The Indians pounded the Royals 11-0, the Bengals make a statement with a 37-8 victory over the Vikings and the Browns picked up their first win under Romeo Crennel, 26-24 over Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.
The Indians have won 12 of 13. Last year, the Indians were a streaky team. They would win five and then immediately lose six. They're streaky again this year, also, only in 2005 they put together a lot more winning streaks than losing ones. In fact, this recent streak cannot be chaulked up to "They're just hot right now." Maybe they're just good? Really, really good. They will face their biggest test of the season tonight in a huge series with the White Sox, who won yesterday, in Chicago. Kevin Millwood will face Freddy Garcia, who like all of the other Sox starters has dominated the Tribe this year. First pitch is 8:05, and you can bet that only an emergency will keep me from watching.
I told you the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings would be the game to watch this weekend, and in a way I was right. Though the score was lopsided, it exclaimed something to the media around here: The Bengals are for real. The Vikings were my Super Bowl pick, but their supposedly improved defense was no match for Carson, Johnson, Johnson and T.J. Not only that, but the Minnesota quarterback is playing more like Dante Bichette than Daunte Culpepper. If the Bengals can eliminate turnovers and reduce mental errors, they could be the Pittsburgh, or at least Indianapolis of this year. They have as much talent as anybody, and my prediction for 10 wins may not be enough.
Romeo Crennel and his staff probably enjoyed a nice toast after the ballgame yesterday, and they deserved it. The Browns 26-24 win in Lambeau is a huge step for the franchise. I realize the Packers are down this year and Favre still managed to carve up the Browns secondary, the Browns have to be excited for their big play potential. Braylon Edwards' long touchdown yesterday along with Heiden add a dimension to the offense I didn't think they had: The ability to go deep on every play. If Trent Dilfer can perform even close to the way he did yesterday and do it against better defenses, the Browns will score points. Don't get ahead of yourselves, yet, Browns fans. They are still inexperienced, over-penalized and nowhere near a playoff contender. Revel in the fact, though, that you've got a .500 team, if only for a week.
I called out the Marlins and they responded, beating Philadelphia last night. Florida still has a shot, in my opinion, but I called last night a must-win for them. The NL wildcard is wide open, and the AL one is still up for grabs (as are all the divisions.) The picture changes every night, and that is what is so much fun about September baseball. The real winners are people like you and me, who get to watch it all unfold.