What we have here in this 2012 Cincinnati Bengals team is a streaky bunch. They've endured two three-game winning streaks sandwiched around a four-game slide and are in the midst of one of the most dominant streaks in the club's history. We're dedicating this post to a look inside the numbers over the past three games, as they have raised the collective eyebrows across the National Football League.
+Points Scored/Point Differential: The Bengals have experienced one of their biggest offensive and defensive renaissances in recent memory of late. They've scored 93 points in the last three wins, good for 31 per game. In their first three-game winning streak this season, they scored 99 points, though the defensive performances weren't nearly as stout as they have been in November.
Conversely, the Bengals have given up 29 points in the last three wins, good for less than ten points per game. The staggering differential in this three-game winning streak is plus-64. In their first three-game winning streak in September, their point differential was plus-10. It's definitely a noticeable difference.
+The Superb Play of Andy Dalton: The Bengals' quarterback had a dubious streak of his own in 2012, where he threw at least one interception in each of the first eight games. The team was 3-5 during that time and Dalton was called out by head coach Marvin Lewis about a month ago, saying he needs to play better and take control of the team. Boy, has he responded--especially in the last three wins.
Check out these stats and averages in the last three wins: Dalton has nine touchdowns against zero interceptions and another rushing touchdown. He's thrown for 639 yards the past three games, equating to 213 per game and is completing early 62% of his passes. As if that weren't enough, his average quarterback rating in the last three wins is 115.5. Dalton is just nine passing touchdowns away from tying Carson Palmer's franchise record of 32.
+Defensive Unit Has Stepped Up Immensely: In their first three-game winning streak, the Bengals almost solely relied on the offense to get the victory. Save for the game against the Jaguars, the Bengals were in shootouts. It's not even close to being the case right now. The defensive unit is relying in the pass rush up front, led by Geno Atkins and have racked up 11 sacks over the past three weeks.
On the turnover front, the Bengals have forced seven (three interceptions, four fumble recoveries) in the last three games. This is undoubtedly the product of an improved pass rush, but the bottom line is that they're starting to resemble the Mike Zimmer-led group that we have seen over the past few seasons.
+The Resurgence Of The Running Game: Josh Kirkendall did a nice piece on how the running game has improved of late and has been a major reason why the Bengals are controlling games lately. As Kirkendall noted, the Bengals have 410 rushing yards over the past two games, but when looking at the last three games, they have had 486 yards on the ground. It's taken a load of pressure off of Dalton and everybody's play has raised.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has really hit his stride in particular, as he's had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. He has put up 280 yards over the past three wins and had the longest runs of his career against the Raiders this past Sunday. Let's not forget the integration of Cedric Peerman into the offense and he has gained 157 yards himself over the three-game win streak. Both Green-Ellis and Peerman have gained yards in big chunks and both have been outstanding on converting critical situations.