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 Andy Dalton's pass attempts this season, eighth-most in the NFL. Forget the two Hall of Famers blasting away in the AFC title game, with Denver's Peyton Manning throwing the most passes during the season and New England's Tom Brady throwing the fifth-most. Forget that. Go the NFC title game, where two young quarterbacks are directing offenses backed by top five defenses. Like a certain redhead.
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 Leon Hall can make lightning strike twice in three years and make a miraculous recovery like he did in 2012 and play 14 games coming off a torn Achilles, he'll have played in 107 career regular-season games in what is becoming one of the finer Bengals careers. His 106th game will put him third on the list for most games played by a Bengals corner, passing six-time Pro Bowler Lemar Parrish. Cornerback Ken Riley leads all Bengals with 207 games, followed by Louis Breeden's 134 games at corner. With 23 career picks, Hall needs three to pass Parrish into fourth on the Bengals all-time list.
11 - TDs catches by wide receiver A.J. Green this season. If he repeats that next season, he'll have 40 for his career and shoot past some historic names into fifth on the all-time Bengals list behind Chad Johnson (66), Carl Pickens (63), Isaac Curtis (53) and Eddie Brown (41). He'll power past the two greatest tight ends in Bengals history, Rodney Holman (34) and Bob Trumpy (35), as well as wide receivers Cris Collinsworth, Darnay Scott (36) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (37).
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 Geno Atkins is averaging in his 57 career games, which is better than the .48 he averaged coming into the season. When he got hurt in the ninth game, he led the team with six sacks. If he plays as many games as the most recent Hall of Fame tackle, Warren Sapp, Atkins will have 94 sacks in 185 games, 2.5 sacks fewer than Sapp.
24 - That's how many punts Kevin Huber pumped inside the 20 this season before he missed the last two and a half games with a fractured jaw. If he hits 24 again this season, he'll tie Pat McInally for second on the Bengals all-time list and then is just 29 shy of Lee Johnson's all-time record of 186. Huber just finished his fifth season while McInally punted for 10 seasons and Johnson 11.