Andy Dalton is entering his third season as the Bengals' starting quarterback.
During his first two seasons he has led Cincinnati to the playoffs, only to fall to Houston in the wild card round each year.
Is the third time going to be a charm for the player known affectionately as "The Red Rifle"?
Let's look at his numbers over his first two years in the league.
Dalton has impressed in every statistical category since he was drafted in 2011. How much so is made clear when you put his numbers up against active Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.
|E MANNING||12-11|| 0-1||389||754||51.6||4805||30||26|
|P MANNING||16-16|| 0-1||657||1108||59.2||7874||52||43|
In comparison to the championship quarterbacks, Dalton has the third highest regular season win total behind Roethlisberger (22), Brady and Flacco (20).
Those same three quarterbacks are the only three to win a postseason game in their first two seasons, with Brady and Roethlisberger actually delivering titles their first seasons as a starter.
Dalton also ranks third in completions, behind only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and is second only to Peyton in passes attempted. Dalton's 60.2 percent completion rate is good for fourth on the list, again behind Flacco, Roethlisberger and Brady.
Yardage and touchdowns, two of the biggest statistics for a quarterback, are where Dalton really shines. Dalton's 7,067 yards over his first two years is second only to Peyton Manning's 7,874, who is the only quarterback to top Dalton in touchdown passes over his first two seasons (52 for Manning to Dalton's 47).
While a naysayer might point out Dalton's higher interception total (29), when you figure his interception percentage, his numbers are quite good (number of interceptions divided by the number of attempts, multiplied by 100):
As you can see Dalton's INT percentage is second only to Brady and Flacco's 2.6 percent. So what does this all mean?
Possibly everything, possibly nothing.
Dalton compares favorably to all active Super Bowl winning quarterbacks over the same span of their careers. Does this guarantee a Super Bowl win for Cincinnati? No, but if I were a betting man, Cincinnati would be on my short list this season.