Half a year ago, we posted a handful of "Bold Predictions" for the 2015 NFL season involving the Cincinnati Bengals. Some of these predictions were especially crazy, making readers protest in disagreement. But, some of these predictions had a good chance of coming to fruition. Now that the Bengals' season has concluded, we're taking a look back to see if any of these predictions came true, or if they were just a bit too bold.
Today, we're looking back at the third bold prediction, that Andy Dalton would win Super Bowl 50 MVP
Why this prediction was "bold"
If you remember Dalton in 2014, this question does not even need to be asked. All one needs to do is take one look at the comment section of the original post, lamenting how asinine such a suggestion was. In fact, it was so "bold" that the NFL Network even showed the Tweet from Cincy Jungle when the story ran.
Why this prediction was feasible
Because we had a strong hope that the Bengals were going to win the Super Bowl. The team had reached four straight playoff trips, and a fifth didn’t seem unrealistic. And with the offense returning healthy and in the second year of Hue Jackson’s system, this didn’t seem to be outside of the realm of possible.
Andy Dalton is a Quarterback
Five of the last six, and 11 of the last 17 Super Bowl MVPs were quarterbacks. Simply put, if the Bengals were to win the Super Bowl, Dalton would have a huge advantage when the MVP selection was made. And you don’t even have to be an "elite" quarterback to win MVP. Just look at Eli Manning (twice), Joe Flacco, Mark Rypien, and Doug Williams. All you have to be is the winning quarterback.
So many offensive weapons
Between A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and a committee backfield, the Bengals were not dependent on one sole offensive player to drive their offense. This means it would be difficult for one player to be so productive that he would sway the decision for the MVP award from quarterback to another position.
Dalton had been improving in the postseason
After his first postseason game, Dalton's postseason interception rate of 2.6% was better than his regular season rate of 3.3%. And he had a decent game in Indianapolis despite having nobody to throw to with Green, Jermaine Gresham, Eifert and Marvin Jones all out of the lineup and Jeremy Hill getting injured early on during the game.
Track record of QBs who struggled early in their careers in the postseason
Peyton Manning 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. Tom Brady didn’t top a postseason passer rating higher than 86.2 until his sixth game. Philip 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 passer rating. Redemption is possible after a rough start to a playoff career, and perhaps Dalton was next.
Final Grade? B+
Stats for the top candidates at the point when Dalton was injured.
The Bengals’ 2015 season is the ultimate "what could have been". Had Dalton played the whole game at home against the Steelers, who he had already beaten on the road, and were he have to play the game in Denver instead of McCarron, the Bengals likely could have gone 13-3 or even 14-2 and earned that first round bye. Denver and New England were not as good as they have been in recent years. This could have been a legit Super Bowl team. Consider Dalton exceeded all expectations, finishing with a 106.2 quarterback rating, 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, passing for 250 yards per game.
Simply put, he was having a great season, and had he stayed healthy, the Bengals could have won the Super Bowl, and Dalton would have been in prime position to win the MVP.