Despite Monday's setback against the Texans, Andy Dalton is having a year to remember in his fifth NFL season and one that may end up being his best ever. Through nine games, Dalton is completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 2,423 yards (8.2 yards per attempt) with 18 touchdowns vs five interceptions. His 104.6 passer rating ranks as the fourth best of any quarterback, as too is his total QBR.
As for Palmer, he also is having the best year of his career, though it comes in his 13th year in the NFL. Through nine games, Palmer is completing 64 percent of his passes for 2,749 yards (8.93 yards per attempt) with 23 touchdowns vs seven interceptions. His 108 passer rating ranks as the second best of any quarterback while he's first in total QBR.
He posted an accuracy percentage of 75.0 percent on deep passes (five-for-eight, 119 yards, three touchdowns, one drop) while going a robust 9-for-10 for 118 yards on passes in the intermediate range.
Put that together, and he was 14-of-18 for 237 yards and three touchdowns, and the one drop was a perfectly thrown post route about 50 yards in the air.
As for Dalton, he comes in at the fourth spot in PFF's latest quarterback rankings. While everyone has Monday's night's debacle as they last image of Dalton, he was elite for the first nine weeks of the season, so one bad game shouldn't discount that. This is also the first season that no one can deny that Dalton is a true franchise quarterback, something that was hard to say during his up-and-down first four seasons.
The same wasn't true for Palmer during his tenure in Cincinnati. It was clear early into his third season with the Bengals that he was their franchise signal caller. He would remain such until 2011 when he asked to be traded and was eventually shipped to the wasteland that was Oakland.
Palmer endured two seasons of losing and poor play with the Raiders as it looked like the end of his NFL career was closing in. Then came a trade in 2013 that sent him to Arizona for a late-round draft pick as head coach Bruce Arians thought he could revive Palmer's career.
Not only has he done so, but Palmer is now playing the best football of his career. He's on pace to finish with career highs in passer rating, QBR, passing yards, touchdowns, and yards per attempt. He's also helped Arizona rank fourth in passing offense, third in total offense and second in scoring offense.
The Cardinals are 23-8 under Palmer since 2013, including a 6-0 mark last year before a torn ACL cost him the rest of his season. Only three of those losses have come at home as Palmer has been very hard to beat in Arizona.
It's safe to say this week will be more than a reunion game for the Bengals and Palmer. It will be a matchup of two teams who believe they're Super Bowl contenders and looking to further work towards that with a win over another possible contender. It means a little more for the Bengals though as they look to get the bad taste of Monday's loss out of their mouths.
What better way to bounce back from a primetime debacle than potentially beating a great team under the bright lights? The Bengals couldn't ask for a better scenario as they look to prove Monday was a fluke and not a sign of things to come.