Ten stats to watch for the Bengals in 2014. And what the NFL's Final Four can teach us:
6 - This is for Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and let's get that one out of way because that may be the last time that title is used. After a second interview in Minnesota on Tuesday that went all day, if Zimmer isn't introduced as the Vikings head coach in the next 48 hours, it is going to be an upset.
So in his honor, let it be known that this wasn't the first year his defense was dominant at Paul Brown Stadium. In the last 25 home games, only six quarterbacks have had multiple touchdown passes against the Bengals. And just two—Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck—in the last 14 games. While guys like John Skelton, Brandon Weeden, T.J. Yates and Colt McCoy did it, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning didn't.
3.6 - The Bengals yards per rush, fifth-worst in the NFL, and for the third time the low of the Marvin Lewis era. It has usually meant disaster though. When the Bengals hit 3.6 in 2008 and 2010, they won four games each season. The lowest yards per rush of the Final Four is Denver's 4.1 topped by the 4.4 of the Pats and San Francisco. New Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's Raiders rushed for 4.5 in 2011 and 4.9 in 2010.
30 - Turnovers. Tied for third-most under Lewis with 34 in 2010, 32 in '04, and 30 in '07. How good was this defense? The Bengals won 11 games when the '10 team went 4-12, the '04 team 8-8 and the '07 team 7-9. Lewis is already talking about cutting down turnovers and why not? Only one of the Final Four teams had more than 20 turnovers—Denver's 26—and it's going to be downright stingy in the NFC title game, where Seattle and Frisco combined to turn it over just 37 times in the regular season.
586 - And maybe here's a big reason why. Those are quarterback
Russell Wilson, who was seventh in passer rating, threw the 22nd-most passes. Colin Kaepernick, the man drafted a spot behind Dalton in 2011, finished next to last in completion percentage and in the bottom half of TD passes (where Dalton was 15th and third, respectively). But Kaepernick threw the eighth-fewest interceptions (Dalton was near the bottom) in finished tied for 20th with the fewest passes.
430 - Points the Bengals scored in the regular season, the most in the Lewis era and the third-most in Bengals history. That comes out to 26.8 points per game. Former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski always used to harp on the number of 24 points per game for a playoff team and the ceiling for the Bengals always seemed to be 23. Getting more than two TDs and three field goals always seemed to take an act of Congress. Look at that '06 8-8 team that missed the playoffs by a game with an average of 23.3 and the '07 team that finished 7-9 with a 23.75 average. This is just about right. The Niners are the lowest-scoring team in the playoffs at 25.3 points per game with 406.
107 - If cornerback
11 - TDs catches by wide receiver
20 - TD passes Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton needs for 100 in his career. Dalton has 80 in 48 career games. Carson Palmer had 80 in his first 46 games and finished his first four seasons with 104. Dalton will join Palmer (154), Ken Anderson (197) and Boomer Esiason (187) as the only Bengals with 100 TDs.
.51 - Coming off his ACL injury, that's how many sacks two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle
24 - That's how many punts