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Can Andy Dalton bounce back from horrendous stretch?

For the Bengals' sake, Andy Dalton must play significantly better to keep Cincinnati in playoff contention.

Andy Lyons

If the Bengals are to turn their season around and come out of New Orleans with a win this week, they'll need Andy Dalton to have a serious bounce back after a string of performances that he'd like to put behind him ASAP.

It culminated with his three-interception, 10-completion performance vs. the Browns on Thursday Night Football, but his arrow was trending down before that.

Over his past four games, Dalton has completed just 68 of 130 passes (52 percent) for 711 yards with just two touchdowns vs. six interceptions. Unsurprisingly, the Bengals have gone 2-2 in those games, and with a far more difficult stretch of games coming up, it's easy to see why there's doubt Dalton can lead Cincinnati to the postseason again.

Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese believes Dalton will rebound after effectively getting kicked right where it hurts the most.

"He’ll do it again. This will be a good game," Zampese said. "Any time you get kicked in the groin there is a certain re-set that happens in your mind. On how you go about things as a group. You have confidence as a group you’re going to bounce back because you know you have higher expectations for yourself."

I hope that's true, because when I've kicked in the groin, I'm inclined to fold up and cry like a baby girl, which is what it felt like Dalton did during his latest primetime flop.

"That's not the kind of player I am, not the kind of offense we are, not the kind of team we are to put that showing out there," Dalton said of what he’s hearing after Thursday. "You can't lose any confidence. You can't all of a sudden panic or anything. There's been a lot of good things that have gone on for this team. So hold onto that kind of stuff, because you've still got to have a lot of confidence. That's the best thing you can do out on the field because that's contagious."

For the Bengals' sake, let's hope Dalton does indeed bounce back this week, because it's hard to see Cincinnati staying in playoff contention much longer if he doesn't.