Early Christmas in Cincinnati: “Red Rifle” and A.J. Green

Alex Peterman@Alex_PetermanCorrespondent IIINovember 27, 2012

Nov 25, 2012;  Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green warms up before the game against the Oakland Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-US PRESSWIRE

The holiday season is already finding its way onto the streets of Cincinnati.

While the defense has established itself inside the Top 10 once more, the offense is also making a name for itself. 

That offensive surge has come in the form of leaps and bounds the last few weeks, as the Cincinnati Bengals have outscored their last three opponents by a collective 64 points.  A newfound running game has aided in the explosion on the scoreboard, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis was nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week for his strong effort against the Oakland Raiders

However, there are two players that have stood out all year.  Two players that have really carried the team, and that continue to make strides in their respective sophomore seasons.

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are celebrating an early Christmas in Bengaldom.  Because between the “Red Rifle’s” pass attack and A.J. Green’s hands, the Bengals are finding themselves on what could turn into a magical playoff run.

Two weeks ago, Dalton became one of three players in the history of the NFL to throw 20 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons.  The others are Peyton Manning and Dan Marino.  I don’t think it’s possible to complain about that company.

Get this: Andy Dalton already has 23 this year.  And we’re only in Week 13.

On the receiving end of many of those touchdowns has been Green, someone any quarterback would love to throw to.  He just eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark receiving and is on pace to challenge Chad Johnson’s record.  He can catch the long ball, play the quick screen and even runs the occasional jet-sweep.

He’s dangerous in space, and make tacklers miss after the catch with his speed.  Perhaps most importantly, he’s still managing the year he’s having under the constant watch of double coverage.  The guy’s not just good, he’s been lights-out.

And so as the Cincinnati Bengals look to continue the winning streak and playoff run, look for these players to be at the top, and only expect them to get better.  Happy Holidays, Bengals fans.