Let’s just get this out of the way first ...
The Bengals shouldn’t have abandoned their run game. The offensive line was opening holes for BenJarvus Green-Ellis and his 5.7 yards per carry was evidence of that.
It was a close game throughout, so it wasn’t like they were forced to go through the air.
They ran 45 total offensive plays, and just 15 were on the ground. That’s putting entirely too much pressure on Andy Dalton, who is 2 for 2 in getting Cincinnati to the playoffs in his young career, by the way.
The Bengals will be back.
But not this week.
The Texans, however, are. And everybody and their mother are writing them off.
Not me. I must hop back on Houston’s side.
Two reasons: The Texans accounted for my only miss last weekend; and they were my preseason Super Bowl champion pick.
We’ll get to why I am leaping back onto the bandwagon soon.
As the divisional round of the playoffs kick off today, it seems like most are writing off the Falcons, Texans and Ravens. Well, that’s a mistake. I’m taking two of them.
Ravens at Broncos, 4:30 p.m.
Peyton Manning vs. Ray Lewis.
One legend has already announced his retirement (Lewis) and the other may have a few good years left.
Manning unbelievably picked up where he left off even after having missed a year after having neck surgery.
His postseason record of 9-10 is a constant reminder that he is human.
Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin hooked up for some huge catches in Baltimore’s blowout of the Colts last week.
That combo will be a big factor in why the Ravens will almost pull off an upset.
Lewis’ dance is over.
Snyder says: Broncos 28, Ravens 24.
Packers at 49ers,
Maybe the 49ers should revert back to their former offensive selves tonight and put Alex Smith under center.
Current quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently admitted he grew up a Packers fan!
Maybe a Kaepernick pick to Charles Woodson will seal it.
Look for former Kentucky standout Randall Cobb to likely be a factor in his return.
Snyder says: Packers 31, 49ers 27.
Falcons, 1 p.m.
They’re without their best pass rusher in Chris Clemons, they’ve got a rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, and they were down 14-0 to a team with an ailing quarterback.
Yet everybody wants to pick the Seahawks!
Look, I know they’ve got two great cornerbacks who could very well hold the excellent Falcons receiving corps in check, but Atlanta is the better team here.
And I understand that Wilson is no ordinary rookie.
However, the No. 1 seed is at home, and QB Matt Ryan, as much of a playoff flop as he’s been, will turn it around now. He’ll go to Tony Gonzalez early and often in what is the future Hall of Fame tight end’s farewell tour.
Gonzalez finally gets that ever-elusive playoff win to help cement his legacy.
Atlanta must establish some kind of running game, and it will.
Snyder says: Falcons 26, Seahawks 20.
Texans at Patriots, 4:30 p.m.
OK, so the Texans lost three of their last four regular season games and their offense was fairly lackluster against the Bengals.
But when the whole world is against you, that’s when it’s time to shine.
Tom Brady and the Patriots sliced and diced the Texans during the regular season.
And I’m taking the Texans why?
Arian Foster and J.J. Watt, their offensive and defensive leaders.
The Texans have to strike first, and if they do, they’ll gain control and eat up time of possession by using their running backs and tight ends as they did against Cincinnati.
Snyder says: Texans 24, Patriots 21.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
Let’s just get this out of the way first ...
- Local Sports
Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)