Andy Dalton had a career year last season, as the young quarterback threw for 4,293 yards with 33 TDs to 20 interceptions, a completion percentage of 61.9% and a QB rating of 88.8.
20 interceptions ranked him 5th in the league, and it's a huge concern for Bengals fans. Dalton was once again inconsistent last year, as he managed to lead the Bengals to the AFC North title. However he collapsed in the playoffs with an awful fumble and a pair of terrible interceptions, giving the game to the San Diego Chargers.
It's tough to know how far Dalton can realistically take this team - personally, I wouldn't be surprised if his tendency to turn the ball over led to the Bengals missing out on the playoffs and Dalton looking for a new team in the offseason.
Luckily for Dalton, help is on hand.
A.J. Green is unquestionably one of the best WR's in the game. With 1,426 yards and 11 TDs last season the 4th year WR is always there to help Dalton out on underthrown balls. The only problem Green has is his concentration - the WR had 11 drops last season.
At 6"4 and with incredible hands, Dalton and Green have even been labelled by some as the best QB to WR combo in the league. Considering I'd be stretching to call Dalton anything better than slightly above average, it speaks volumes about how talented Green is.
At RB, it appears that Giovani Bernard is set to assume the starting role. He did well in his limited time last year, as he had 695 yards on 170 carries - with an average of 4.1 yards per carry he displayed impressive quickness and agility - best demonstrated here, as he ran the entire width of the field, juking away from any Miami defender who was unfortunate enough to get close.
While I may not be a fan of Dalton, I'm extremely impressed with Bernard. With plays like that in his arsenal, he could be in for a huge year this season and will definitely be a player to watch out for this year.
The Bengals defensive line is anchored by Geno Atkins, who is arguably one of the best defensive tackles in the game. With superhuman strength and incredible knowledge of what's going on around him, his injury last year hit the team hard (although not as hard as he hits opposing quarterbacks).
Supporting him in the front 7 is linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Despite only being in the league for 2 years he's wasted no time bursting onto the scene, as he racked up an incredible 171 tackles last year, leading the league by a considerable margin. He added to that with 3 sacks and 6 passes defended, as well as a single interception. Burfict is simply invaluable to the Bengals defence, as he's seemingly always in the right place to break up plays and get the ball back to the Bengals offence.
At cornerback for the Bengals are Adam Jones, Terence Newman and Leon Hall. No-one's saying that they're one of the best units in the league, but they get the job done. It's almost certain that rookie Darqueze Dennard will see significant playing time this year, and if he's as good as his high draft pick suggests, the Bengals secondary could impose themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
Got A Chance
Verdict: Yes. While I may not be completely happy seeing Andy Dalton under centre, he has enough talent surrounding him on offence to lead their offence to a big year.
The Bengals defence is potentially one of the best units in the league, with an impressive amount of young talent in each position.
It might be too soon for the Bengals to win the Superbowl, but a relatively open division means that winning the AFC North is easily achievable for them. From then, it's all down to Dalton.