Can Dalton guide the Bengals to the playoffs in 2012?
When was the last time your TCU quarterback was top five in the NFL?
The second-year man out of Texas Christian University ranks fifth with a 103.0 quarterback rating. He’s competed 67.5 percent of his passes for over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns.
He rates even better in total QBR with a mark of 78.3. Many NFL pundits consider this a more comprehensive metric for the quarterback position.
Dalton certainly has his team going in the right direction at 3-1 in the early goings.
Heading into Week 5, let’s detail the three reasons why Dalton will continue guiding the Bengals back to the playoffs in 2012.
Dalton comes to celebrate with Gresham (No. 84) on their game-clinching TD.
Some quarterbacks just have that “it” factor.
Cliché-ridden football terminology aside, Dalton earned his second NFL win in 2011 with a fourth-quarter comeback. He repeated that overcome-the-odds style of play three additional times during his rookie season.
In 2012, he did not waste any time leading his team in similar fashion.
Dalton orchestrated a fourth-quarter rally in Week 3 against the RGIII-led, upstart Redskins. He played master-and-commander with a 4-for-5, 73-yard effort that ended with a six-yard TD pass to Jermaine Gresham.
The Cincinnati QB then put the game away a few minutes later with a 59-yard bomb to Andrew Hawkins for a 38-24 lead (game ended at 38-31).
After a blowout opening-week loss to the Ravens, Dalton handled business in three consecutive weeks. He recorded two 300-plus-yard, three-touchdown games, followed by two TDs against the Jaguars in a 27-10 win.
Yes—the Bengals played against inferior opponents for the majority of 2012. That said, upsets happen both weekly and annually in the NFL.
Dalton did not allow that to happen. His team currently sits in first place in the AFC North.
Dalton and Green are one dynamic duo.
Andy Dalton knows how to foster relationships with a quarterback’s best friend.
He and A.J. Green represent one of the most productive QB-WR combinations in the game today. The 2011 draft picks in back-to-back rounds have combined for eight touchdowns and over 1,500 yards in their first 20 games together.
This season Green has a TD in three straight games and has totaled 100-plus yards receiving in two consecutive. Dalton has facilitated most of that, pushing his go-to receiver to greater heights in just his second season on the NFL gridiron.
Receivers emerging from college continually succumb to the monumental learning curve at the professional level.
Quarterbacks, meanwhile, are encumbered by an even more challenging transition from the NCAA to the NFL ranks.
Both Green and Dalton have rendered those previously applicable NFL platitudes moot.
The quarterback has made this development possible with a ballsy playoff-worthy performance in his rookie campaign, followed by another postseason-worthy season in the making in Year two.
Dalton and his offensive mates will solve the Ravens' relentless D.
The Bengals are 3-5 against AFC North opponents since 2011.
And all of those three wins have come by way of the Cleveland Browns.
So why would I possibly call for anything different in their three remaining games against the Steelers (twice) and Ravens?
Because there comes a point in time where the underdogs say enough is enough. It’s just that time for Andy Dalton and the Bengals.
Despite his two turnovers against the Ravens in Week 1, the game was already lost due to the inabilities of the defense to counteract the opposition’s offensive progress. Dalton’s defensive compatriots put him in a 27-13 hole against a fierce Baltimore D.
There would not be any coming back against Ray Lewis and Co.
Taking all games together, however, three of the five Bengals’ divisional losses amounted to eight points or less. Dalton kept his boys within striking distance more often than not.
Plus, divisional games are still dogfights. Cleveland Browns or not, posting a 3-0 record against any NFL opponent is a respectable achievement.
Moving forward, Dalton will lead his team to two consecutive victories over Miami and Cleveland before a big-time showdown with the Steelers in Week 7. He’ll then orchestrate a win over an already suspect 2-3 Steelers team that will push them even further in the dregs of the division.
At 5-1, Dalton will have the utmost confidence throughout the remainder of the season. He will help his team break even at 3-3 in the division and lead it into an AFC wild-card berth.
Predictions are often deemed as unfounded conjecture due to the unpredictability of professional sports.
That being said, Dalton has the physical skills and internal fortitude to destroy the odds and make his Bengals team a divisional favorite for the future.
That future exists in 2012.
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