Analyzing Dalton, Benson, Green, and Simpson at the Quarter Pole

The basic formula for this blog seems to be this: Ben is the optimist; Sridhar is the pessimist; and I’m the gambler. This post will do nothing to alter those roles.

You may remember that before the season started, I wrote a post breaking down various over/under prop bets for Bengals players. Now that we’re a fourth of the way through the season, I thought it might be interesting to revisit those picks to see how the Bengals are doing. For each bet, the format will be as follows:

Player name, category: line. My pick. Current number. Season-end projection (simply the current number times four).

Andy Dalton passing yards: 2,700. Over. 868. 3,472.
Andy Dalton touchdowns: 12.5. Over. 4. 16.
Andy Dalton interceptions: 15.5. Under. 4. 16.

From watching the two games that weren’t blacked out at my house and reading about the two that were, Andy Dalton has been wildly inconsistent. He was great after halftime against the Broncos and Bills, rallying the Bengals from a pair of 17-3 deficits for a close loss and a thrilling win. But in the first half of the Bills game and for all four quarters against the 49ers, he was putrid. Those sorts of ups and downs are to be expected from a rookie. But because these lines were, in my opinion, fairly conservative, he is on pace to surpass them all. As long as Dalton stays healthy, I don’t think the yards or touchdowns should be a problem. And as he gains experience, hopefully he’ll cut down a little on the interceptions.

Cedric Benson rushing yards: 1,100. Under. 348. 1,392.
Cedric Benson rushing touchdowns: 7. Under. 1. 4.

Benson’s career high is 1,251 rushing yards, so he’s on pace for the highest yardage total of his career. He’s also averaging a career high 4.5 yards per carry. The big question mark, obviously, is whether Benson will have to serve a looming three-game suspension, which would make it significantly more difficult, if not nearly impossible, for him to reach 1,100 yards, not to mention seven touchdowns. Benson played in week four while the suspension was under appeal, and his status for week five is up in the air, though commissioner Roger Goodell says a decision on Ced’s status will be made shortly. At first, I was rooting for Benson because it seems unfair to suspend him for something that happened during the lockout, when his actions shouldn’t have been subject to NFL rules. Then I realized I was siding with a repeat offender trying to get out of being punished for assaulting someone. I’m pulling for him to get suspended, finish with fewer than 1,100 yards, and stop punching people.

 A.J. Green receiving yards: 650. Over. 312. 1,248.
A.J. Green receiving touchdowns: 3.5. Over. 2. 8.

Probably the smartest prediction I’ve made all year was saying that A.J. Green is a special talent who can succeed no matter how Dalton performs. Green has made several catches this year, especially the touchdown grab against the Broncos while falling out of bounds, that have demonstrated clearly just how good he can be. Ochocinco who?

Jordan Shipley receiving yards: 650. Over. 14. Out for the season.
Jerome Simpson receiving yards: 550. Over. 212. 848. 

Shipley’s injury means I am guaranteed to get at least one of these picks wrong. Even before he tore his ACL, Shipley wasn’t a big part of the offense in the first two weeks. Against the Browns, he managed one catch for one negative yard. Simpson on the other hand seems well on his way to 550 receiving yards, though like Benson, he’s had some legal issues. For now, his alleged drug trafficking (or drug reception, I guess) is still being investigated, and he’s free to play on Sundays.

Carlos Dunlap sacks: 9.5. Under. 0. 0.
Leon Hall interceptions: 3.5. Over. 0. 0.

As Ben and I discussed in the comments of his Man of the Match this week, the Bengals have allowed 1,102 yards this season, fewest in the NFL. They rank a respectable 12th in sacks with 10 (no thanks to Dunlap).  But they have only one interception all year, putting them 31st in the league. Amazingly, the Steelers have zero interceptions this season.

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