On paper the Cincinnati Bengals looked poised to make a serious run at the playoffs next year after back-to-back appearances and an improving core.
Statistically speaking, the Bengals look great on paper as well. Leaders Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are poised for solid campaigns as usual. Geno Atkins should post sack numbers befitting of an elite defensive end. The list goes on for a while.
Predicting statistics before the season comes down to a few variables. For one, individual averages have to be examined and then contrasted with changes in personnel as a whole, schematic changes and more. Projecting progression, or lack thereof, also needs to come into play.
We'll do all of the above in the following slides in an attempt to project how the stat sheet will look when the Bengals have closed down shop at the end of the regular season. Just remember—great statistics do not always correlate to marks in the win column—and vice versa.
4,305 Yards Passing, 33 TD's, 21 INT, 63% Completion
Andy Dalton is a tough nut to crack. Given the continued addition of quality talent around him there is no reason to believe his stat line won't keep steadily progressing upward.
Being able to spam the ball to a guy like A.J. Green helps, but now Dalton has a reliable check-down target in rookie back Giovani Bernard. As a result, Dalton's completion percentage will jump a bit, but so will his interceptions with added attempts.
A trend to watch with Dalton is how much his stat line is padded with yards-after-the-catch. Dalton has never been known as a solid deep passer, but weapons like Bernard, Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins, as well as massive tight ends like Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert will get Dalton more YAC than he can handle in 2013.
225 carries, 850 yards, 3.8 yards per carry, four touchdowns
Make no mistake, The Law Firm is still the starter in Cincinnati despite the presence of Bernard. Green-Ellis will see his numbers drop as a nice chunk of his 278 attempts from last year will go to Bernard. His averages per carry will stay about the same given the fact he is a known commodity. Interestingly enough, it is a safe bet his total touchdowns actually goes down from the year prior with so many short-yardage passing options to choose from in the red zone.
122 carries, 650 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, five touchdowns. 35 receptions, 330 yards, three touchdowns
It may not be the amazing statistical output Bengals fans are expecting, but Bernard will have a sound year nonetheless as he flirts with hitting the 1,000-total yards mark. Bernard will see plenty of work out of the backfield in all capacities and his explosiveness should lead to some nice averages and long gains.
85 Receptions, 1,275 yards, 10 touchdowns
Green saw a nice leap in statistics from his rookie to sophomore campaigns, especially in the receptions department, which jumped from 65 to 97. Unfortunately, Green's numbers will drop in 2013 because of the continued addition of talent. This is especially the case with Giovani Bernard in town, so when Andy Dalton is in trouble he'll dump it off safely rather than toss is up (pretty safely) to Green.
55 receptions, 650 yards, five touchdowns
Sanu is the No. 2 receiver in Cincinnati. Not in a traditional sense, but in a statistical one. Sanu is versatile enough to line up in the slot and outside and has shown a serious knack for making a quality red zone target. Had the Bengals not drafted Tyler Eifert, Sanu's second-year numbers would be even more impressive.
35 receptions, 400 yards, two touchdowns
Jones is a bit of an odd man out at this point with more and more targets going to Bernard and Eifert. He's very talented as an outside receiver, but unless injuries happen much of the attention from Dalton will go elsewhere this year.
25 receptions, 350 yards, two touchdowns
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has confirmed Hawkins is a candidate for injured reserve with a designation to return after an ankle injury suffered during the preseason according to Geoff Hobson. Hawkins is a gadget weapon on screens and the like, but his numbers are going to be way down if he truly does end up missing a large chunk of time.
60 receptions, 600 yards, six touchdowns
Believe it or not, Gresham is going to do just fine in 2013 despite the presence of a first-round rookie at the position. He will continue to hover right around his career averages as one of Dalton's most trusted security blankets. Gresham is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, but his game when not dropping passes is one of the best through the air as well.
35 receptions, 400 yards, four touchdowns
Eifert is an interesting one to predict because he could massively overachieve as a rookie with so many other options for defenses to look at. Combine that with his ability to line up out wide and Eifert is a mismatch machine waiting to explode. His problem is like all the other weapons on the offense though—there are simply not enough balls to go around. Rookie growing pains can and will happen as well.
30 tackles, eight sacks, five forced fumbles
The Bengals locked up Dunlap on a long-term deal this offseason per Joe Reedy of USA Today in part because he is one of the most gifted defensive ends in the entire NFL when healthy. That seems to be the issue though, as Dunlap has yet to play in all 16 games in a season. This could be the year Dunlap puts it all together, but his numbers will not shoot upward with so many other talented players on the line.
35 tackles, nine sacks, one forced fumble
Johnson is the Bengals's franchise player, and for good reason after tallying 11.5 sacks in 2012. His future with the team past next year is in doubt, but he will still have a great year after putting on bulk last offseason to better become an every-down player. Just do not expect him to reach that sack total again, which was padded in large part due to a three-sack performance against Washington last year against an inexperienced tackle.
10 tackles, two sacks
Geathers makes his money as a locker room leader and run-stuffer that rotates with Dunlap. If Dunlap can get it together against the run and stay healthy, Geathers' numbers will continue to dip. He's good for a few sacks after others flush the quarterback in his direction.
12 tackles, seven sacks
Non-Bengals fans are thinking, "who?" but fans from Cincinnati know that Gilberry exploded on to the scene last year and tallied 6.5 sacks in a rotational capacity. Think of him like Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker in the past—he's going to get his as part of a deep rotation—that's what Mike Zimmer's scheme does.
10 tackles, 2.5 sacks
We'd be remiss to not mention the big Estonian here. Hunt will see some time in the rotation as a rookie. He has a long way to go when it comes to technique, that much was apparent in training camp and on Hard Knocks, but his elite athletic ability will get him to the quarterback a few times.
45 tackles, 11.5 sacks, five forced fumbles
There is no reason to believe the best defensive tackle in the NFL, both according to ProFootballFocus (subscription required) and a host of others, will have any issue meeting his career averages. Atkins is a freak of nature with his low center of gravity and jaw-dropping power. When Atkins wants to get to the quarterback, he'll get there. Atkins creates plenty of opportunities for those around him and makes them better, but he'll stuff his own stat sheet as well.
20 tackles, two sacks
Peko's job is to absorb as many blockers as possible on each play, not put artifical numbers in a column. Despite some grunts from the fan base every now and then, Peko is very good at what he does—which is act as the perfect complement to his partner in crime, Atkins.
135 total tackles, one sack
Burfict may not claim the starting middle linebacker job with Maualuga showing signs of turning things around, but he will only improve on his numbers from a year ago with more experience to his name. As the weak-side linebacker, Burfict will continue to be mediocre in coverage but excel at getting his nose to the ball faster than anyone else.
120 total tackles, one sack
Maualuga has done some nice things in the preseason after coming back to the team with no other suitors on the open market. Fans may not like it, but the coaching staff sees something in Maualuga in the middle of the defense and this could end up being the year he delivers.
35 tackles, six sacks
A staple of the Mike Zimmer defense is the double-A gap blitz, where two linebackers shoot through the interior of the offensive line and create an unorthodox pressure on the quarterback. In Cincinnati, Harrison will be one of those linebackers in a hybrid look as he crashes on the interior of the line with Geno Atkins. Scary.
Lamur deserves a mention here because he is a linebacker seemingly talented enough to start on the weak side if need be. He was on the field a lot last season in passing situations and should see even more playing time as he continues to grow. Bright things are ahead from Lamur.
25 tackles, four interceptions
Year after year Hall is one of the soundest corners in the NFL. Last year he ranked No. 18 overall per ProFootballFocus (subscription required) while once again playing shut-down coverage and coming up to help when needed in the running game. Business as usual for the wily veteran.
50 tackles, two interceptions
Surprise! Newman ranked No. 14 on the same list while playing solid in coverage but really making his money against the run. He finished in fourth place on the defense last year with 75 total tackles. Expect more of the same barring a sudden fall off a cliff that typically gradually comes with age.
30 tackles, two interceptions
Double surprise! Jones was No. 13 on that list. Underrated does not even begin to describe Jones anymore, who is one of the NFL's top slot corners. Business as usual here as well from Jones, who mixes tight coverage with the willingness to get scrappy against the run into one complete package.
20 tackles, one interception
With how sound the corners above him on the depth chart are, it is going to be hard for Kirkpatrick to get a lot of playing time in 2013 barring injury. Since this is a projection that does not take into account injuries unless they are known at the time of writing, Kirkpatrick's stats are based on special teams and substitution duty.
90 total tackles, five interceptions
Here is another shocker—Nelson is criminally underrated in the secondary as well. He ranked as the No. 4 safety in the NFL per ProFootballFocus (subscription required). There is not a hole in Nelson's game, which means he can be played at either safety spot and still be effective. That's quite the useful player to have, especially if the team could find another quality safety.
30 tackles, two interceptions
Iloka may be that safety after some above average showings for the most part in preseason action. It is hard to give the nod to a rookie at the strong safety spot right away, and the coaching staff's decision to go with Iloka over Taylor Mays in the preseason speaks volumes.
As a rookie Williams may not see a lot of playing time until he can shore up coverage issues. Still, he will be given his chances in a rotational capacity, or on the good chance others at the strong safety spot are struggling.
20 of 25
Nugent has been solid since coming to Cincinnati. Expect a good percentage if he can keep his health.
80 punts, 45.4 average
Not much to say here. The Bengals should not be doing an inordinate amount of punting and Huber should float around his career average.
25 attempts, 650 yards
Fans detest it, but the coaching staff prefers Tate on kick returns. That will not change in 2013, especially after he averaged 24.8 yards per return last season.
45 attempts, 550 yards, two touchdowns
This is of course provided he is healthy, but Jones remains one of the best punt returners in football. the problem is he seemingly pulls up lame more often than not. If healthy, Jones will contribute in a big way to Cincinnati winning the field position battle consistently.
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