I am pretty much in the bag for Andy Dalton, and I am still completely confident this guy is going to be a very, very good NFL quarterback but not even No. 14 can escape the brutal realities of being a NFL rookie QB.
After leading the Bengals to a 6-2 record, the last two weeks have knocked the rookie back into Dalton.
Against Pittsburgh last week and Baltimore today, Dalton hung in and kept his team close but ultimately he looked like a first-year player.
11/13 v. Pitt - 15 of 30, 170 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT ... L, 24-17
Late in the game down by a TD Dalton had the Bengals moving but threw a pick at the Pittsburgh 19.
11/20 at Balt. - 24 of 45, 373 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT ... L, 31-24
Dalton threw a beautiful deep ball that Joe Simpson caught for a 43-yard gain that put the Bengals at the Ravens' 7-yard-line with less than two minutes remaining. But the drive stalled as Baltimore put intense pressure on Dalton and the Bengals' O-line couldn't hold up.
Dalton is a major reason why the Bengals are 6-4; provided he stays healthy, this team should win at least nine games. They have three winnable games remaining:
vs. Cleveland on 11/27
at Rams on 12/18
vs. Cardinals on 12/24
But can they get to 10 with these other games remaining:
at Pitt 12/4
vs. Houston 12/11
vs. Baltimore 1/1
Whether the Bengals can get to eight, nine, 10 or whatever will likely depend on Dalton's ability to grow up even faster than he already has.
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