Sure, it sounds absurd on the surface – and maybe it is. But if it’s not a bit outlandish, then it’s not really a "bold" prediction. Our latest in a series of bold predictions is Andy Dalton winning the Super Bowl MVP Award.
After all, Dalton has zero wins and four losses as a starting quarterback in the playoffs. Not to mention he owns an abysmal 57.8 quarterback rating in the playoffs, thanks to his six postseason interceptions and only one postseason touchdown.
You might think an anthropologist has a better chance of finding the fabled "missing link" between apes and men, than anyone has of earning a Super Bowl MVP award in the Dalton home. And based on Dalton’s postseason track record, who could blame you for thinking such a thing?
So what case could we possibly present in defense of the bold prediction that Andy Dalton will win the Super Bowl MVP Award?
BECAUSE THE BENGALS WILL WIN SUPER BOWL
If you are a Bengals fan, then obviously you are hopeful that your team will win the Super Bowl. So for the purposes of this bold prediction, we will assume that the Bengals are going to win the Super Bowl – Who Dey!
ANDY DALTON IS A QUARTERBACK
Ever since Bart Starr won the first (and second) Super Bowl MVP Awards, a quarterback has won the award a majority of the time. More than 50 percent of the awards have gone to a quarterback. Those odds sit in Andy Dalton’s favor.
More recently, those odds have gotten even better. A quarterback has won the award in:
11 of the last 17 Super Bowls (65%)
7 of the last 10 Super Bowls (70%)
5 of the last 6 Super Bowls (83%)
Any Super Bowl winning quarterback has to like those odds.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A GREAT QB TO WIN THE AWARD – YOU JUST HAVE TO BE A QB
The point above shows how the selection for the Super Bowl MVP Award typically follows a one track mind, and that one track is that your best chance to win the award is at the quarterback position.
When fans think of quarterbacks who win the award they think of "elite" quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. But you don’t need to be an "elite" quarterback to win the award.
Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Joe Flacco, and Eli Manning (twice) have shown us that, you don’t have to be a great quarterback to win the award. You just need to be on the winning team and play well enough in the Super Bowl game. So Andy Dalton is not eliminated from consideration for "non-elite" status.
BENGALS HAVE TOO MANY OFFENSIVE WEAPONS FOR DALTON NOT TO WIN THE AWARD
Since the inception of the Super Bowl MVP Award, only 14 percent of the previous award winners have been running backs, and no running back has won the award since 1997. Those running backs who won the award were workhorses, such as Terrell Davis (1997) and Emmitt Smith (1993). Jeremy Hill is a great running back, but is in a committee with Giovani Bernard. As such, this tandem works against Hill. Bernard stands to lessen the number of touches Hill would receive and prevent him from being the high volume workhorse that he would need to be if he were to win the award. And conversely, the presence of Hill prevents Bernard from winning the award.
Since the inception of the Super Bowl MVP Award, another 14 percent of the previous award winners have been wide receivers. While A.J. Green is elite, the Bengals have enough good receiving options in Marvin Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Tyler EIfert, and Giovani Bernard. With the potential for the passing game to spread the ball around, if Green does get big numbers, it’s likely that he isn’t the only receiving target with big numbers – which means Dalton would also have big numbers, and would receive the award.
ANDY DALTON IS GETTING BETTER IN THE POSTSEASON
For the Bengals to reach the Super Bowl, Andy Dalton needs to play well. So it’s safe to assume that if the Bengals get to a point where they reach, and win a Super Bowl, then Dalton had a solid post-season. And while this seems somewhat unlikely, given how ugly his post-season numbers are, there are some glimmers of hope.
Dalton gets knocked for his playoff interceptions, but if you take out his rookie year, he only has a 2.6% interception rate during the last three years. This is actually better than his regular season interception rate of 3.3% during the same span. Despite being without his top wide receiver, his second wide receiver, his top tight end, and his second tight end, Dalton managed to attempt 35 passes in the playoffs last year with no interceptions. It was the first year he had played a postseason game without an interception, and considering the lack of a supporting cast, there is something to be said for that. It’s a positive step.
Less than 6 percent of Dalton’s career starts are in the postseason, but more than 9 percent of his total sacks are in the post season. He is getting sacked at a much higher rate in the playoffs. But improved play from the offensive line should help that. Using their top two draft picks this year on the offensive line should provide depth by the time the playoffs roll around if Andre Smith or another lineman falls to injury.
PRIOR TRACK RECORD OF QBS WITH BAD POST-SEASONS EARLY IN THEIR CAREER WHO GOT BETTER
The most famous example of this is Peyton Manning, who started his playoff career with an 0-3 start and with a QB Rating as low as 31.2 is his third post-season attempt. But, consider for all that is made about Tom Brady and his Super Bowl accolades, it wasn’t until his sixth post season game that he finally topped a QB Rating higher than 86.2. Phillip Rivers only once threw more touchdowns than interceptions in his first five playoff appearances, and Eli Manning had a forgettable 113 yard performance in his first playoff game with three interceptions and a 35.0 QB Rating. Redemption is possible after a rough start to a playoff career, and perhaps Dalton is next.
So what do you think of this bold prediction? Does Andy Dalton have a chance to win the Super Bowl MVP Award, or is this bold prediction just a bit too bold?