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Archive for the tag “Andy Dalton”

Ranking The NFL’s Five Undefeated Teams

The NFL has had a lot of inconsistencies this season. One week a team can look like a contender and the next week they look like they don’t even belong in the playoffs. But there have been five teams that have escaped unscathed so far despite the ebb and flow of the NFL. Those teams are the Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. All five teams have managed to take care of business despite sometimes being in tough situations. All of these teams will more than likely not go undefeated, but which of them is the stronger team of the undefeated? Let’s take a second to rank each undefeated team. Let’s start with number five.

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

Photo courtesy of The Denver Post

5) Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos are undefeated this season and it has become a usual feeling to see them doing well. Defensively, the Broncos are scary good with two lockdown corners, two incredible pass rushers and a linebacker crew that underrated. Offensively, the Broncos are making a transition to Gary Kubiak’s offense and that has been painful to watch at times. But even with that, they have found a way to make it happen when it matters the most. The Broncos have employed the Orange Crush and some think they will get better as the weeks go on. But there has to be some concern about Peyton Manning and the offense. Manning has made big throws when his team needs them, but he has also made some inexplicable mistakes unbecoming of Manning. And as the season goes on, it gets cold in Denver. And we all know that Peyton is not the best performer when it gets cold. Couple that with the Denver running game still trying to get it figured out and that could mean some issues for the Broncos come playoff time. If indeed this is Peyton’s last season, he will need to pick it up if he wants to end it on a high note. For now, they have to be the last-ranked undefeated team in this grouping.

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer

4) Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have started 5-0 for the first time in their franchise history. Defensively, the Panthers survived the loss of superstar linebacker for three games and did not miss a beat. Defensive back Josh Norman has been spectacular in coverage for them in a contract season. And offensively, Cam Newton is making the plays for his team to win games every single week. They are playing very well on both sides of the ball, but the offensive limitations for the Panthers could hurt them. The loss of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury before the season was a huge blow to the Panthers offense. With him gone, the only weapon in the passing game that scares teams is tight end Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end has been excellent despite receiving extra attention from defenses. That may be something they can get away with in the regular season. But in the postseason, the Panthers will need someone to step up. Rookie wide receiver Devin Funchess has all the tools to step up and be that other target Cam needs, but he has been inconsistent catching the football. Other than the Panthers passing game, all other aspects on offense and defense are solid. It will be interesting to see how they grow throughout the rest of the season.

Photo courtesy of Democrat And Chronicle

Photo courtesy of Democrat And Chronicle

3) Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have come out with some fire this season. Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing like he has something to prove this season. And to go along with the offense, the Bengals are also holding their own defensively. The most impressive moment of the season for them had to be the comeback in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks. And the thing that is interesting about this team is they are not dependent on AJ Green to have big games every week. It is hard to find holes in this team with the way they are playing. But like all teams, there is something they are missing. The Bengals have given up the second-most points of the undefeated teams. In the past, it was very hard to make it happen versus Cincinnati. This year teams have been finding a little bit more success. The Bengals defense is talented, but they have to make sure and tighten it up as the season goes on. Offensively, running back Jeremy Hill has been struggling to get going. The Bengals are surviving without him producing a lot, but they will need him to get going in December and January to fulfill their championship aspirations and win that first game for the combo of Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis. Time will tell if they can get these issues resolved. But this team has some work to do.

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

Photo courtesy of CBS Sports

2) Green Bay Packers

Green Bay has come out this year just as impressive as they ended the season (despite the loss in the NFC Championship game). The defense has been better at all levels, led by linebacker Clay Matthews and his versatile play. And offensively, Aaron Rodgers is again playing like a MVP. Even with the loss of one of his best wide receivers, he still is making it happen and the Packers are still over 27 points per game. But even with all the great things, there are some things they need to work on. One noticeable thing is the offensive line. Too many times, Rodgers has had to be creative and avoid the rush. Some of that can be attributed to the pressure that comes. But other parts of that are linked to protection breakdowns. The Packers may face some issues if they don’t get that taken care of come playoff time even though Rodgers is their quarterback. Another issue offensively is health at the wide receiver position. They lost Jordy Nelson in the preseason for the year and many of their receivers have been dinged up. Rodgers makes it happen still in spite of that, but you need your best wide receivers on the field when the time comes to make a run. But even with these issues, the Packers have been able to look great this season. However, in order to win the title they must work to shore up those weaknesses.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Jam

Photo courtesy of The Boston Jam

1) New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have come out like a team possessed. They have scored the most points of any team in the NFL and they have been very solid defensively in each and every win. Some would say they are primed for a great run at repeating as champions. With Gronk in a groove catching the ball, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman running their short routes to perfection and the rotation of running backs playing well, there is no reason to think this offense will slow down anytime soon. Add to it the fuel that Tom Brady is playing with (Deflategate) and it looks like the defending champs are out to make a statement. But defensively, there lies one issue. The Patriots did not want to pay their starting cornerbacks from last season, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. As a result, Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan have been holding it down at the cornerback spots. Both have been doing their best, but they are not the best set of corners. In the playoffs, expect these two to be attacked and that could harm them. But with the offense they have and the defensive mind in Belichick pulling the strings defensively with defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, they can cover them up with the pressure they bring and the disguises they make. Overall, it looks like the championship is theirs to lose.

These ranking could change as time goes on, but the Patriots are handling business. Each one of these teams has a great shot at making the championship game, but there are some things that both have to sure up or learn how to hide well. Whatever team does so will have the best chance at winning the trophy. It shall be interesting to see what the rest of the season holds for these five.

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Cincinnati’s Success This Season Falls On Andy Dalton And Marvin Lewis

Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton's futures may be tied together in the success or failure of the Bengals. (photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton’s futures may be tied together in the success or failure of the Bengals. (photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

The AFC North is always a very tough division. The Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers make up this division and every game between any of them physical. This season is no different as the division games so far have been physical battles. Taking a look at the standings so far, the Cincinnati Bengals lead the division, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and then the lowly Baltimore Ravens at 0-3. Cincinnati has looked very impressive to start the season. And with Pittsburgh losing Ben Roethlisberger out four to six weeks, the chances the Bengals have to win the division and make the playoffs went up significantly. But with the Bengals, making the playoffs have never been the issue. The team always seems to make it happen when it comes to the regular season. And with their defense, they always seem to come to play in the postseason as well. But with this team, the quarterback and the head coach seem to be in the same malaise. Both have had pretty good success in the regular season. But both have struggled when it matters most.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has been running the Bengals offense ever since he was a rookie. And year after year, he has put up average to a little above average numbers. For his career, the 5th year quarterback has thrown 107 touchdowns to 67 interceptions. He has had some games where he seems to be in a zone. And he has had others that make you scratch your head. But he always seems to find himself playing in the playoffs. Whether some like it or not, he has got the job done as far as Cincinnati’s concerned and helped them make the playoffs. But once he’s gotten there, that’s when he has floundered. He has thrown only one touchdown pass in the playoffs in his four appearances. And with that, he has thrown six interceptions. His quarterback rating when he has been there has not been over 70 once. He just has not made it happen when it matters the most. But even with those numbers in the postseason, the Bengals decided to pay him and pay him well last season (signed a six-year, $115 million contract extension last offseason). With this new contract now comes expectations. And the prevailing thought is that Dalton needs to win a playoff game and win one now. Because the contract he was rewarded with comes with great things expected. And if those aren’t achieved, he could find himself on his way out of Cincinnati.

Dalton is feeling the pressure, but head coach Marvin Lewis should be feeling more pressure than Dalton. Many times people have wondered how he has kept his job as head coach of the Bengals. He took over the Bengals when Chad Johnson was the star wide receiver there and has been making the Bengals a household name when it comes to the playoffs ever since. But along with starting to become a consistent team in the playoffs came a different set of expectations. Gone were the days of making the playoffs being a goal and in came the realization that winning a playoff game has to happen. Ever year the Bengals have made the playoffs, Lewis and his team has just not been able to get it done. Each season it seems like the team gets it going through the regular season and flounders when it matters the most. Fair of unfair, the failures in the playoffs fall on one man and one man alone: Marvin Lewis. Something has to be happening as to where he cannot come through in the playoffs. Marvin cannot continue to keep making the playoffs and lose. It has happened a lot over the years and eventually the management will get tired of it. If they continue to keep Lewis and let him keep taking the same pattern, then that says more about the organization than the team at that point. And ownership may want to question themselves.

Lewis and Dalton are the two key ingredients in trying to get the Bengals to the next level and a playoff win. The success lies within both of them. Lewis has to find a way to get the best out of his team in the playoffs. And as for Dalton, he has to get it together in the playoffs as well. Both have been missing in action in the playoffs and it’s time for them both to appear. Their jobs could very well depend on how well they do. The Bengals will more than likely make the playoffs again, but that is far from the goal and should be far from the expectation for this team.

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TEM’s Wild Card Weekend Preview: Cincinnati Bengals vs Houston Texans

The Cincinnati Bengals continue their unexpected season in Houston as they appear in the playoffs for the second time in three years. Rookie QB Andy Dalton has been excellent this season for a team that was thought to be rebounding. He has amassed 3398 yards while passing for 20 TDs. In this game, Dalton must continue to be the smart guy that he is behind the center. He must value the football and take advantage of the few opportunities that he will be afforded against one of the toughest defenses in the NFL this year in the Houston Texans. Rookie WR AJ Green(1057 yards, 7 TDs) against stellar CB Jonathan Joseph should be a good matchup. TE Jermaine Gresham will be a mismatch for the Houston defense and he should also be a player to watch this game. Another key point this game for the Cincinnati offense will be the play of their offensive line and RB Cedric Benson. Benson had another 1,000 yard season this year and he must be effective in the run game because if he isn’t, players like Texans DE JJ Watt will be all over Dalton and that won’t be good.

QB T.J. Yates has been a Godsend for the Texans this year. After losing starting QB Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinhart for the year to injuries, most people thought that the Texans would fall quickly. Well, Yates and his poise kept the Texans afloat despite their current three game losing streak heading into the playoffs. Yates has been poised, but he isn’t going to be the key this game. The key for this offense will be RB Arian Foster. He has been a monster running the football this year (1224 yards, 10 rushing TDs) and if I were them, I would run right at a Bengal defense that just let Ray Rice run wild against them last game. Yates will also be called upon to make some plays in the passing game. And its huge for the Texans that WR Andre Johnson is reasonably healthy after going through a couple hamstring injuries. He will no doubt be matched up with CB Nate Clements, who will be making his first playoff appearance in his 11 year career. That should be an interesting matchup between two veteran competitors. Another person you may want to watch is Houston TE Owen Daniels. He is also very vital to the Texans passing game.

As for how the game goes, expect this game to be in the high teens/mid-twenties at best because of the power of these two defenses. In the end, the Bengals will have more weapons, make more plays and are in a better flow than the Texans, who limped into the playoffs. Marvin Lewis finally gets his first win in the playoffs.
Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Houston 20

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