Friday, September 28, 2012
Final Word: AFC North
By Jamison Hensley
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:
Andy Dalton has the fourth-highest passer rating in the league after three weeks of play.
No sophomore slump: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is on quite a tear in his second season in the NFL. In going against Jacksonville and the league's 21st-ranked pass defense this Sunday, Dalton is shooting for his third straight game with 300 yards passing. In his previous two games, he has completed 74 percent of his passes (43 of 58) with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Dalton leads the league with a 158.3 passer rating in the fourth quarter, which happens to be the perfect passer rating. He is having a much better start than Carolina's Cam Newton, last year's NFL offensive rookie of the year.
Getting the defense on track: There will be reason to start worrying about the Bengals' defense if it continues its decline at Jacksonville. Cincinnati, a top-10 defense in points and yards allowed a year ago, is giving up 34 points and 416.7 yards per game. The Bengals get a chance to right themselves against the Jaguars, who are averaging 17.3 points per game. Only two teams (Dallas and Philadelphia) have scored fewer through three games this year.
Green's encore: Wide receiver A.J. Green has been a model of consistency in terms of catches. He has at least five receptions in his first five games of the season. His challenge Sunday is following up his 183-yard performance from a week ago. Last season, Green averaged 57.7 yards receiving in the games following a 100-yard performance. He ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards per game (103.7) and is tied for eighth in the league in receptions (21).
Interception drought: The Bengals are one of three teams who have not intercepted a pass this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. This has been an ongoing problem for Cincinnati. The Bengals only picked off 10 passes last season, which was tied for sixth-fewest in the NFL. It could be difficult to get one Sunday. Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert hasn't been intercepted this season (79 pass attempts). Plus, cornerbacks Leon Hall (hamstring) and Nate Clements (calf) are battling injuries and won't be at full strength if they play.
Bounce back for the running back: BenJarvus Green-Ellis is disappointed that he fumbled Sunday, the first time that has happened in his five-year career. He had gone 589 touches without coughing up the ball. One of the reasons that Cincinnati chose not to re-sign Cedric Benson was his fumbling problems late last season. Green-Ellis can redeem himself against the Jaguars, who are giving up 154.3 yards on the ground per game. Where Green-Ellis does most of his damage is in the red zone. He has scored 13 rushing touchdowns in his last 19 games.