Bengals' Rookie QB Reminds Many Of Ravens' Flacco

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 20: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 31-24. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

The stats might not be exactly the same, but they are close enough to see the definite comparisons between the Cincinnati Bengals rookie QB, Andy Dalton, and the 2008 rookie season of Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco. The Bengals are fighting for a Wild Card post this season while in 2008, the Ravens rebounded from an embarrassing 5-11 season to turn it around to 11-5 in Flacco's rookie year and a Wild Card slot on their way to a heartbreaking loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.

Dalton may not end up in the post season, much less the conference championship game, the future of both which will be decided this Sunday afternoon when Baltimore travels to Cincinnati for the final regular season game this season. However, when looking at the two quarterbacks initial pro seasons, we can see the similarities between Dalton and Flacco.

Here are Flacco's rookie season (2008) statistics:

Games: 16 Comp/Att: 257-428 Pct: 60.0 Yards: 2,971 TD/INT: 14-12 QBR: 80.3

Here are Dalton's rookie season (2011) statistics:

Games: 15 Comp/Att: 278-472 Pct: 58.9 Yards: 3,166 TD/INT: 20-13 QBR: 81.8

Interesting, yet a bit disconcerting, here are Flacco's 2011 stats:

Games: 15 Comp/Att: 297-523 Pct: 56.8 Yards: 3,480 TD/INT: 19-12 QBR: 79.7

Granted, in both 2008 as well as this year, Flacco has a better team behind him that Dalton has had, but going into the seasons, both teams were coming off disappointing losing seasons prior to their coming to their respective teams. Furthermore, neither QB was drafted with the plan being to thrust them into starting positions right off the bat.

Baltimore had no choice than to start Joe as both starter Kyle Boller and backup Troy Smith came down with either injury or illness that necessitated the move. Cincinnati fully expected veteran QB Carson Palmer to return for his self-imposed "retirement" to mentor Dalton for at least one season.

Giving the success that both enjoyed in their rookie seasons, much less in the AFC North, give credence to the notion that both will continue to develop into solid NFL quarterbacks and lead their team to stay competitive on an annual basis. Coincidentally, neither Flacco nor Dalton were able to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in their rookie seasons, Flacco losing to the Steelers three times, including the AFC Championship Game, while Dalton lost both meetings between the teams.

So far in 2011, Dalton has also not beaten the Ravens, although he did throw for 373 yards in their first meeting, a 31-24 Ravens victory. Hopefully, the rookie will not beat the veteran in their second meeting as well.

Also, from the NFL on both Flacco and Dalton:

THE YOUNG & THE PROSPEROUS: This Sunday, two quarterbacks winning in the early stages of their careers face off in an AFC North contest with playoff implications for both teams. Baltimore’s JOE FLACCO has amassed 43 wins since being drafted in 2008, the most through a quarterback’s first four seasons among those who began their careers in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). MATT RYAN, who also entered the league in 2008, has led Atlanta to 42 wins entering Week 17.

Cincinnati’s ANDY DALTON, a second-round selection (No. 35 overall) in the 2011 Draft, has led his team to a 9-6 record this year. With a win over the Ravens, Dalton can become the fifth quarterback ever to win 10 games or more as a starter in his rookie campaign, joining a group that includes both Flacco and Ryan.

The quarterbacks to win 10+ games as a starter in their rookie seasons:

PLAYER

TEAM

YEAR

RECORD

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh

2004

13-0

Joe Flacco

Baltimore

2008

11-5

Matt Ryan

Atlanta

2008

11-5

Kyle Orton

Chicago

2005

10-5

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati

2011

9-6*

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