Key to the Season: If the Bengals average two sacks a game, they're going to the playoffs

Robert Geathers sacks and forces a fumble on Donovan McNabb in Bengals' tie against the Philadelphia Eagles

Here's a stat that might be of interest to you, in the fun world where statistics are critical in the school of Nostradamus. The Bengals averaged 2.5 sacks per game this preseason. Last year the Bengals recorded 17 sacks in 16 games, averaging to 1.1 sacks per game. The increase from the last regular season to this year's preseason is impressive right? It's an indication of the team's improved pass rush, right? Aside from the fact that several sacks came against units that are unlikely to ever play together (aka, entire second and third team units on offense), the Bengals averaged 2.5 sacks in 2008. And we all know one basic rule of preseason: take everything you saw and apply it to the regular season because the preseason is so much of a predictive outcome. Disclaimer: That's sarcasm.

But here's what we do know. Antwan Odom is healthier heading into this year's regular season opener than last year. Furthermore, he bulked up without losing his quickness hoping to rebound after a poor three-sack season (we won't even go into the investment the team made in him during last year's offseason). Robert Geathers, who's recorded six sacks since his career high 10.5 in 2006, appears quicker and more aggressive, firing off the ball. In the NFL draft, the Bengals selected Michael Johnson; while he didn't have a sack during the preseason, he's showing a lot of promise. Pat Sims recorded three sacks during the preseason and, even though he only recorded one sack in 2008, had impressive pass rushes during his rookie year. In his final two seasons with the Chicago Bears, Tank Johnson recorded 8.5 sacks combined. Tank is known for being able to collapse the pocket up the middle. Finally, Mike Zimmer's defensive philosophy last year focused on stopping the run so much, that the pass rush suffered. He's changing that this year to include a more focused pass rush. Theoretically, along with an increase of blitzes from the secondary and linebackers, all of the above should help the defense rebound after a franchise-low 17 sacks in 2008.

I was interested in a few associations. How did opposing quarterbacks do in games in which the Bengals recorded no sacks, one sack, and more than one sack. We break it down.

Opposing QB rating Games Avg.
QB rating when Bengals record 0 sacks 6 96.8
QB rating when Bengals record 1 sack 5 101.6
QB rating when Bengals record 2+ sacks 5 64.3
All yards are net passing yards Games Avg.
Avg. passing when Bengals record 0 sacks 6 225.8
Avg. passing when Bengals record 1 sack 5 176.8
Avg. passing when Bengals record 2+ sacks 5 209.6

More importantly, did the Bengals win more games when sacking the quarterback?

Record when Bengals record 0 sacks 1-5
Record when Bengals record 1 sack 1-4
Record when Bengals record 2+ sacks 2-2-1

So if we base a prediction on stats, we're going to say that if the Bengals record two sacks per game, then they're going to the playoffs. How do you feel about that?

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