The Bengals finished the 2012 seasons with a 10-6 record and earned their place in the postseason, largely thanks to their performance in the second half of the season. The Bengals won seven of their final eight regular-season games. In that stretch of games, second-year quarterback Andy Dalton had some of his best and worst games of the season. It really was the best and worst of times (you knew there was going to be Charles Dickens reference in here somewhere).
Dalton's best games of the season, and of his career, came between Weeks 10 through 12. In that period of time Dalton threw for 639 yards, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. He had an average passer rating of 115.5 in those three weeks. The Bengals won all three games, which were against the Giants, Chiefs and Raiders, and began their streak that would land them in the playoffs.
Completed: 21 Attempts: 30 Yards: 199 TD: 4 INT: 0 QB Rating: 127.6
Completed: 18 Attempts: 29 Yards: 230 TD: 2 INT: 0 QB Rating: 109.8
Completed: 16 Attempts: 30 Yards: 210 TD: 3 INT: 0 QB Rating: 109
After the Oakland game, Dalton seemed to hit a wall. He struggled over his next four games, playing especially poorly in the second Steelers game. Luckily, the Bengals still won three of those four despite the rocky quarterback play.
In the four games where he struggled, Dalton threw for 822 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions for an average passer rating of 69.
Completed: 25 Attempts: 38 Yards: 211 TD: 1 INT: 2 QB Rating: 66.9
Completed: 20 Attempts: 33 Yards: 206 TD: 1 INT: 1 QB Rating: 76.1
Completed: 13 Attempts: 27 Yards: 127 TD: 1 INT: 0 QB Rating: 74.2
Completed: 24 Attempts: 41 Yards: 278 TD: 0 INT: 2 QB Rating: 58.8
The 2013 season will need to see more of the Dalton that played against the Giants, Chiefs and Raiders than the one that finished off the season. The Bengals' tough defense was the reason they won in games when Dalton and the offense struggled, but against teams like Patriots, Packers, Bears and Lions, a tough defense won't be enough. The Bengals will also have to keep up offensively. If they don't, a third consecutive playoff appearance may not be in the cards.