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How Andy Dalton has elevated game

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Defense key for Bengals on MNF (1:20)

Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden preview the Bengals matchup with the Texans, focusing on Cincinnati's defense. (1:20)

ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando spends each Sunday with ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden and the Monday Night Football crew. This week, they're in Cincinnati for the Houston Texans-Cincinnati Bengals matchup in Week 10 (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET). Here are some takeaways from Gruden about Andy Dalton's stellar play in 2015.

This is a deep, versatile and relatively complete Cincinnati Bengals team we're getting against the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football. We could dedicate an entire column to the Bengals' defensive disguise packages or to their terrific front four, but with quarterback Andy Dalton putting up Tom Brady-like numbers during an 8-0 start, the offense is where we turn our attention.

I love this offense on so many levels. The Bengals have had many of the same players together for several seasons and it's all coming together now that health is on their side. Offensive line play in the league has probably never been worse, but the Bengals are excellent in that critical area. (It's a pleasure watching tackle Andrew Whitworth get after people week after week.) I can't think of a team with a more diverse and robust rushing attack. Dalton is hitting his stride in his fifth season and looks like he is turning a corner. There is just so much to like about how these Bengals are playing.

Below, I'll run through nine areas where Dalton has either improved or continued to play at a high level. I'll also illustrate how versatility at the skill positions elevates Dalton's game while separating the Bengals from other teams.