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Week 1 Bengals vs Raiders: The Dalton Dispatch

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Andy Dalton is the most scrutinized player on the Bengals. In this weekly column, we keep track of his progress and setbacks so as to make for more informed discussions about his play.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Each week, we analyze the performance of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. In Week 1, Dalton led his team to a road victory in Oakland, 33-13. For highlights and analysis of his performance, watch the following video:

The Data:

Dalton was 25/34 for 269 yards with two touchdown passes and zero interceptions, good for a QB rating of 115.9.

Deconstructing Dalton:

Because of the fact that the Bengals took a 24-0 lead into halftime, the stats do not do Dalton's performance justice. This was Dalton at his absolute best. He dissected the Raiders' defense and exploited matchups, finding the 6'6" tight end Tyler Eifert for two touchdowns when he was defended by Oakland's defensive backs. Dalton impressed not only with his precision passing, but also with his pocket awareness. Leading up to the game, much was made of the recent signing of linebacker Aldon Smith, who was to join rising star linebacker Khalil Mack and veteran defensive end Justin Tuck to create a formidable pass rush. However, Dalton was not sacked and was only hit once (by Smith). When the pocket collapsed, he astutely turned to running back Giovani Bernard to gain positive yardage.

On Deck:

Dalton and the Bengals return home next week to face the Chargers, who held Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and his slew of playmakers (including receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate and rookie running back Ameer Abdullah) to just 302 yards of total offense in a come-from-behind victory for San Diego, 33-28. The Chargers broke up six of Stafford's passes in a performance he'd like to forget (his QBR was just 34.3). The Bengals last played the Chargers in their playoff game following the 2013 season, a disastrous 27-10 loss in which Dalton and the offense (save receiver Marvin Jones) struggled mightily.

Dalton's Direction:

Upward. Dalton was a complete quarterback on Sunday. He hit open receivers, made things happen with his legs and oversaw a turnover-free performance for the offense. The signs of improvement we saw in the preseason were put on display in a meaningful game in a hostile environment where the franchise had previously been winless (0-10). Dalton looked like a man on a mission. Expect Dalton to throw for multiple touchdowns and more than 300 yards next week at home against the Chargers.