After a dominating 41-21 win over their division rivals – and the preseason favourites in the AFC North – the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Joe Burrow has transformed a team that not long ago posted a 2-13-1 record into a serious playoff contender.
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals are riding high, with a playoff berth and their AFC North destiny both now firmly in their grasp. With games remaining against the #1 seeded Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns, the next two weeks will be crucial to the development of the Bengals – who currently hold the #3 seed in the AFC – and their second year quarterback Joe Burrow.
The former LSU quarterback was imperious in Sunday’s victory, throwing for over 500 yards and four touchdowns against the NFL’s #32-ranked pass defense. Put simply, Burrow showed the Ravens’ depleted secondary absolutely no mercy.
Let’s discuss the 25-year-old’s career to date, his award prospects, and the Bengals’ potential path to a first Lombardi trophy.
2020 #1 Pick dominates Baltimore
Burrow was terrific vs Baltimore, throwing for a franchise-record (and fourth-most in a game in NFL history) 525 yards, with four touchdowns, spread among his playmakers Tee Higgins (2), Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon.
Burrow’s first touchdown pass – a 68-yarder to Boyd – came early in the second quarter. Boyd, who was lined up as the inside man in a three-receiver set to the right of the formation, ran an ‘out and up’ which shed Ravens’ linebacker Patrick Queen, and freed Boyd to snap up the dime from Burrow that hit him perfectly in stride.
The second came six minutes later, on a nine-yard completion to running back Joe Mixon. Mixon, who had released into the flat as Burrow’s check-down option, not only made the catch, but proceeded to power through three tacklers into the end zone.
Burrow added a third touchdown pass in the second quarter, this time on a one-yard score to Higgins. Higgins, who’d come in motion as the only receiver on the left side of the formation, feigned an inside slant route before angling back toward the end zone pylon. The yard of separation that Higgins gained with his crisp route left Burrow with a simple throw for the score.
Burrow’s final touchdown came five minutes into the fourth quarter as he found Higgins again, this time for a 10-yard TD. The Ravens’ deep safety shading toward the other side of the formation left a gaping hole in the Baltimore secondary, which Higgins exploited with a simple post route, which Burrow complemented with yet another immaculate-placed throw.
What they said about Joe Burrow…
"Joe Burrow is a top-five QB in the NFL, absolutely! … If 31 other teams had the decision right now, to choose Joe Burrow or Kyler Murray, they would choose Joe Burrow."
— First Take (@FirstTake) December 27, 2021
“Joe Burrow is a top-five QB in the NFL, absolutely! … If 31 other teams had the decision right now, to choose Joe Burrow or Kyler Murray, they would choose Joe Burrow,” says ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky.
Just finished Joe Burrow throws vs BAL. That was a clinic. Every type of throw- on time, off schedule, layer throws, drive throws, big time anticipation throws, 3rd or 4th in progression…you name it. Money.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) December 27, 2021
“Just finished Joe Burrow throws vs BAL. That was a clinic. Every type of throw – on time, off schedule, layer throws, drive throws, big-time anticipation throws, 3rd or 4th in progression…you name it. Money,” added NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
"I think Joe [Burrow] threw for like 1,000 yards today… It's going to be a great challenge for us."
– Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs' upcoming game vs. the Bengals
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 27, 2021
“I think Joe [Burrow] threw for like 1,000 yards today… It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes when discussing next week’s matchup between the Chiefs and the Bengals.
2021 season so far
- 15 Games Played
- 4,165 passing yards
- 30 touchdowns
- 105.0 Passer Rating
Burrow started 2021 with eight successive multi-touchdown passing games, making use of the considerable offensive talent – including his college teammate Ja’Marr Chase, along with Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon – that’s been assembled in Cincinnati.
Cincy opened the 2021 season 5-2, with wins over Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Detroit and Baltimore. A three-point defeat to Chicago and an overtime loss to Green Bay were the only two blemishes on that early slate.
Back-to-back losses to the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns dropped Cincinnati to the foot of the AFC North, and cast serious doubt on their status as contenders in the AFC. However, a run of four wins from six has since turned the tables. The Bengals now lead the division by a game over Baltimore, against whom they hold a tiebreaker, by virtue of their two head-to-head regular season wins.
Burrow has completed just under 70% of his passes and produced five 300-yard games this campaign, and added a pair of rushing touchdowns. Burrow currently ranks #6 in the NFL in passing yardage, #7 in touchdown passes and #13 in quarterback rating. It’s an excellent showing for any second-year quarterback, let alone one who’s been sacked a league-high 47 times!
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College: Louisiana State University
Drafted: #1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals
Career Stats (Inc. playoffs)
- 25 Games Played
- 6,853 passing yards
- 43 touchdowns
- Five rushing touchdowns
Joe Burrow was born in Ames, Iowa and attended Athens High School, whom he led to three straight state playoff appearances and seven postseason victories. He passed for an awesome 11,416 yards and 157 touchdowns at Athens, and added a further 2,067 yards and 27 touchdowns in the run game.
Ranked as a four-star recruit, Burrow committed to Ohio State. After redshirting the 2015 season, he spent another two years as backup to J.T. Barrett. In total, Burrow appeared in 10 games for Ohio State, throwing for 287 yards and two touchdowns.
With Ohio State set to name Dwayne Haskins as their new starter, Burrow – who had already graduated from college – transferred to Louisiana State University and was named as the starter for the Tigers. In his rather modest 2018 season, Burrow tallied 2,894 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. What came next, however, was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
For both Burrow and LSU, the 2019 season was historically great. Burrow led the NCAA in completion percentage (76.3%), passing yardage (5,671), passing touchdowns (60) and passer rating (202.0), and capped off his college career by throwing for 463 yards and five touchdowns (he added a sixth as a runner) in LSU’s 42-25 win over Clemson in the National Championship game. Unsurprisingly, Burrow’s brilliance caught the eyes of NFL scouts, and earned him the distinction of being the #1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, by the Bengals.
In just over half a season as a rookie, Burrow led the Bengals to a 2-7-1 record – though he was individually quite impressive for a rookie, throwing for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Sadly, in just the tenth games of his career, against the Washington Football Team, Burrow tore both the ACL and the MCL in his left knee. Needless to say, these days, that setback seems a distant memory!
Comeback Player of the Year – 6/1 (+600) – Coral
Having suffered a serious injury towards the end of his rookie campaign, Burrow will certainly be under consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year award – which awards a player who has battled back from adversity. His main rivals for the award are Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa.
Most Valuable Player – 40/1 (+4000) – BetVictor
Burrow would need to replicate his Week 16 performance in the final two games of the season to earn serious consideration for the MVP award. The Bengals signal caller is currently eighth in the MVP odds behind favourites such as Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes, Indianapolis RB Jonathan Taylor and the GOAT himself, Tom Brady.
Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl odds – 28/1 (+2800) – William Hill
The Bengals currently occupy the #3 seed as they top the AFC North with a 9-6 record. This weekend they take on the mighty Chiefs – the only AFC team to clinch a post-season berth to date. That date with Mahomes & Co. could cement Cincy’s status as a Super Bowl contender… or set up a nervy Week 18 finale vs Cleveland.