5 Takeaways from Andy Dalton's Explosive Week 16 Performance

Ben Feder@@bfeder510Correspondent IDecember 28, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 22:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This past Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals crushed the Minnesota Vikings 42-14 behind a dominant Andy Dalton. The Red Rifle threw four touchdown passes and clinched a Bengals playoff berth for the third consecutive season.

Let's see why Dalton's performance was important for the Bengals heading into the postseason.


Dalton Dominates at Home

Dalton continued his home dominance at Paul Brown Stadium. He has thrown 18 touchdowns at home this season and just five interceptions. Luckily for Dalton, the Bengals should have home-field advantage for at least the Wild Card Round.

With an undefeated record at home this season, Dalton should be carrying a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs. 


Dalton Has Options at Receiver

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Wide receiver A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with teammates after catching a batted ball for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Balti
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Obviously A.J. Green is the Bengals' best wideout. However, Dalton showed on Sunday that he can distribute the football. Eight different players had receptions. Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham and Green all hauled in touchdowns. One can’t forget about Marvin Jones, who has emerged as a very reliable second receiver.

As we saw with the 2010 Green Bay Packers, having options at the receiver position is very valuable in the playoffs.


Slump Is Over

During Weeks 9 through 13, Dalton threw 10 interceptions and the Bengals went 3-2. However, for the third consecutive week, Dalton did not throw an interception. He all but confirmed his midseason slump is long gone.

Dalton should put up big numbers at home this week against a Ravens team that allowed 41 points this past week versus the Patriots.

Look for Dalton to air it out and keep his mojo going in Week 17. 


Dalton Ready to Prove Himself in Playoffs

According to NFL.com, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said that Dalton needs a playoff win to progress as a quarterback.

Only five quarterbacks have started their NFL careers by making the playoffs during their first three seasons, and Dalton is one of them. The Bengals are riding a lot of momentum after winning four of their last five games. After a four-touchdown performance in Week 16, Dalton has to continue to throw the ball effectively if the Bengals are to make a run in the postseason. 


Dalton in Future Plans

According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer (h/t Jason Marcum of Stripe Hype), CBS television sportscaster Phil Simms believes that the Bengals have found their franchise quarterback in Dalton.

Dalton has already surpassed his touchdown total from last season. His 31 touchdowns this year rank Dalton third overall in the NFL.

Dalton is often overlooked because of other young quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. One or two playoff wins this year would sure help out the Red Rifle's cause. 

Will Dalton win a playoff game this year? Comment below!