AFC North Champions
While Cincinnati technically already won the AFC North before this game, it didn’t feel right to even mention it until after handling business against the Ravens on Sunday. Your Cincinnati Bengals are back-to-back AFC North Champions and you can break out your cigars to celebrate now … But don’t use all the cigars, as this team has bigger goals ahead.
Now that the season is officially wrapped up, there will be a playoff AFC North clash coming up again, as it is time to take on the Ravens in back-to-back weeks. During the season, both teams managed to pull out a win, although Cincinnati is clearly going to be the favorite in this game. This will not be a “cake walk” by any means, as Burrow and company will need to be a lot better than they were on Sunday to pull out a playoff victory against Baltimore. For now though, puff your cigar and relax in your living room knowing that the Bengals have a chance to do big things again this postseason, Who Dey!
• The biggest positive from this game is that we won and do not have to rely on the absolutely ridiculous coin toss rule that the NFL proposed. Cincinnati will host a playoff game next week and this city deserves it.
• The defense forced four turnovers on Sunday, including two fumbles and two interceptions. Winning the turnover battle is how this team made a run last season and I was happy to see the defense making plays.
• The Bengals were able to succeed in getting off to a quick start yet again, as they put points on the board in their first three trips down the field.
• Drue Chrisman had a stellar performance and a few punts that really made an impact on field position in this game. He has done a fantastic job since getting his named called.
• Our core of Boyd, Hurst, Burrow, Chase, Higgins, and Mixon are healthy for playoffs. Not many teams can say that all of their offensive weapons are healthy and Cincinnati certainly can.
• After the first quarter, our offense was nearly non-existent. Playing with a lead has been a struggle for this offense and we have to figure out a way to continue momentum when ahead.
• Joe Burrow seemed “off” to me for the majority of the game. He misread multiple coverages, overthrew or underthrew touchdown passes, and just didn’t seem to be himself. I trust that he will look much better come playoff time, as this was certainly a hard week for everyone.
• Alex Cappa left the field with an apparent ankle injury. If this is of any seriousness, an offensive line without Cappa and Collins is not good. While Cappa was carted off, he gave a thumbs up, so let’s hope this remains minor and he is ready to go next week.
Nick Northcut joins Matt’s Take
If you haven’t heard the name Nick Northcut by now, you soon will if you are a Reds fan. Nick Northcut was acquired by the Reds in the Tommy Pham trade to Boston.
Nick is from Cincinnati and spent his high school playing days at Mason High School. The Cincinnati native has spent time in High-A and Double-A and hopes to make an immediate impact with the Louisville Bats this season. Nick is 23 years old and is getting a ton of attention for his recent power surge at the plate. Nick is known for playing the infield corners and both throws and bats right-handed. Nick was kind enough to join me this week for a Q&A.
Q: What was it like when you found out the news that you were heading to Cincinnati, your hometown?
A: “Still feels like a movie! Growing up watching the Reds play every night, I’ve always dreamed of playing down at Great American Ball Park, and when I got the phone call telling me I was traded home to the Cincinnati Reds I immediately called my family and told them I was coming home! I’m beyond blessed to get the opportunity to represent the city that helped shaped me into the man I am today!”
Q: What is your goal for the 2023 season?
A: “This year I’m going to show more consistency at the plate. Focus more on walks and controlling the strike zone. I’m the most dangerous hitter on the planet when I stay within myself and force the pitcher to make a mistake! But overall, I want to bring excitement back to the Nati and make it a party every time the Natiboys are in town!”
Q: What is one area you are working to improve on during this off-season?
A: “I’m currently working on some small swing adjustments to help me stay more balanced and controlled at the plate! I’m also trying to learn how to play chess to keep my mental game sharp!”
Q: Growing up in Cincinnati, who would you say your game most resembles in comparison to previous Reds players?
A: “If Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto had a baby, you get Nick Northcut.”
Mary Wineberg joins Matt’s Take
The Cincinnati legend, Mary Wineberg kindly joined Matt’s Take this week for a Q&A. Mary is a graduate from Walnut Hills High School and the University of Cincinnati. Mary is an Olympic Gold Medalist in Track and had an amazing 10-year career.
While many know Mary for her athletic greatness, she holds many other exceptional titles such as CEO, Author, Public Speaker, Mother, Wife, and Teacher. Mary’s exceptional life and success has been motivation for many with large dreams and goals surrounding the city. As a Human Resource Professional myself, I can’t help but think about how long Mary’s resume would be, as she holds so many titles and is one of the most well-rounded athletes I have had the honor of interviewing.
Q: How is life treating you since retiring from your track and field career?
A: “Life is even more amazing these days. I really enjoyed my professional track career which lasted for 10 years. I got the chance to do what I loved and enjoyed. Traveling the world, meeting other athletes, making money, winning races and being able to improve my time in the 400 meters. I retired from the sport after my mom passed away in 2013 and realized it didn’t make me happy anymore and I had done what I needed to do. I won an Olympic Gold, a Gold medal from The Outdoor World Championships, a silver and bronze from two indoor world championships. I also wanted to further add to my family- and I have two beautiful daughters who I look forward to seeing them grow. After track was an easy transition for me in which I went back to teaching. I was an educator before deciding to run professionally for 10 years. I knew that I could always go back to this profession. So I did and I enjoyed teaching for 11 years and being able to be a role model to youth while teaching them to advance in their academics. My passion has always included teaching and for me, getting the chance to be a former second grade teacher was an experience I will always cherish. Now a days I am busy expanding my brand Mary Wineberg and as CEO of Secure Your Gold- I am the person you hire to motivate, inspire or engage with your organization/group/company. I am an author of two books, a motivational speaker, and enthusiast. I travel doing author visits for my children’s book “I Didn’t Win” and I travel doing speaking engagements all over. I love what I can do now and how I can continue to be a pillar for growth and development in my community and beyond. I am a busy woman, mother, wife and I wear many hats. I try to make sure though that I don’t overload my plate. Yes, I love being busy and I am thankful for the opportunities that have been able to come from my journey and story! I also stay busy with my service organizations, the boards that I sit on, and I love to read and travel when I have time. My end goal is to continue to build an empire with my family, husband and to always be happy and full of peace.”
Q: What is your greatest piece of advice for the younger generation with goals of following in your footsteps?
A: “You know what I advise is to educate yourself on where and what it is that you want to do. Make sure that you have a plan and a backup plan. I was always prepared, as I knew that track would not be forever. I knew that I would have to transition at some point. My husband and I got into real estate, and with my teaching degree I knew that I would always be able to look for work in the field of education. I advise that if it is athletics they want to pursue, to train hard, be dedicated, and committed. Know that there are trials and tribulations, but don’t beat yourself up about the outcomes. Use the outcomes as learning points and lessons to push forward. In the professional world I advise to always network. You never know who you will meet and to be yourself. People will judge you and not know your story. Be comfortable sharing your story and always stick to what you believe.”
Q: Is Joey Votto a Hall of Famer?
A: “Definitely, he sure is! You know I got the chance to meet him at this last years opening day. As an Olympic Gold Medalist, I was brought down onto the field and got to engage with the players and see some of Cincy’s greats. He was awesome- he saw me trying to sneak a picture with him in the background and he kindly asked me if I wanted to take a picture with him. I absolutely did!!! We took our picture and I introduced myself. I hope he remembers me (lol). I was proudly sporting my personalized Reds jersey, and bright red lipstick to support and cheer on my home team. So let’s go, Votto for Hall of Fame.”