The Bengals will go as far as rookie quarterback Andy Dalton can take them. (Darron Cummings/AP)

But it’s the first quarterback selected in the second round, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, who will lead his team into the playoffs this weekend. That’s assuming he is able to play in Saturday’s wild-card matchup against Houston, of course.

Dalton missed Wednesday’s practice because of an intenstinal virus , as first reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Marvin Lewis said his quarterback was sent home with the flu, but that “it’s not a big deal.”

Sending Dalton home seems like the right move. An under-the-weather quarterback is one thing, but a locker room full of sick players is another thing entirely. Bruce Gradkowski and Zac Robinson took snaps in Dalton’s absence.

Dalton has been just about as reliable as they come for the Bengals this season — he missed only one other practice, on Sept. 14, and became the first rookie quarterback drafted after the first round to start all 16 regular season games.

His numbers are far from stellar — 3,398 yards, 58.1 completion percentage, 20 touchdowns, 13 interceptions — but the results are there. And going against fellow rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, the Bengals have to like their chances with Dalton at the helm.

Meantime, Yates, who suffered a bruised shoulder in Houston’s season-ending loss to Tennessee, practiced fully on Wednesday and is on track to start in the Texans’ first-ever playoff game.

More NFL playoffs coverage from Washington Post Sports:

Wild Card previews: Falcons-Giants | Steelers-Broncos | Bengals-Texans | Lions-Saints

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