CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is out for the season with a torn ligament in his throwing wrist, the workforce introduced Friday. The information is a shock to a corporation that entered the season with Tremendous Bowl aspirations after consecutive journeys to the AFC Championship Sport following the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
This isn’t the primary time this yr the Bengals have needed to navigate a Burrow harm. Two days into coaching camp, Burrow suffered a proper calf pressure that stored him out of motion for the preseason. He began the season opener — a 24-3 loss on the Cleveland Browns — and struggled early earlier than discovering his greatest type the previous few weeks and placing the Bengals again on a playoff observe.
Friday’s information, nevertheless, places a critical dent within the Bengals’ postseason hopes and all however ends their title aspirations.
In accordance with ESPN BET, the Bengals had been +375 to win the AFC North previous to Thursday’s sport towards the Baltimore Ravens, wherein Burrow exited due to the harm within the second quarter. They had been 25-1 Friday morning and jumped to 75-1 after the Bengals introduced Burrow would miss the rest of the season. Their Tremendous Bowl odds fell from 12-1 to 22-1 to 150-1 in that very same span.
However whereas Cincinnati’s speedy future may seem grim, the Bengals aren’t out of the playoff image simply but. Listed here are three explanation why they may — and will not — attain the postseason.
THE CASE FOR …
Cincinnati has a robust receiving trio
Backup quarterback Jake Browning steps right into a scenario that ought to assist him succeed. The Bengals have constructed one of many higher receiving models within the NFL.
Ja’Marr Chase has reached the Professional Bowl in his first two seasons and instructions double-teams weekly. Tee Higgins collected greater than 3,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons and confirmed good type earlier than lacking the previous two video games with a hamstring harm. Tyler Boyd has been one of many NFL’s most reliable slot receivers. Throw in Trenton Irwin, who has proved to be a succesful No. 4 receiver when pressed into motion, and Browning may have no scarcity of choices.
“I have been doing scout groups for some time,” Browning stated after Thursday’s sport. “You’re operating the worst play towards the worst look, so it was good to go run some performs and I’ve all these folks open.”
Tanner Hudson has additionally burst onto the scene in current weeks. In 5 video games, he has 18 catches for 175 yards, numbers that present why he was moved from the observe squad to the lively roster on Nov. 1.
Browning is not quick on confidence
Even in a frightening scenario — going through the NFL’s No. 2 protection in a divisional showdown Thursday night time, Browning wasn’t fazed. In any case, that is somebody who set California prep data for passing yards (16,775) and touchdowns (229) after which broke data in those self same classes on the College of Washington (12,296 yards, 94 TDs).
“I’ve bought lots of confidence in myself,” Browning stated after the loss to the Ravens. “I believe I am borderline delusional in terms of optimism — like, ‘Hey, I’ll go win the sport.'”
That bravado is one thing Bengals coaches and teammates admire, together with Burrow. Burrow stated Browning’s even-keeled demeanor is among the causes they’re such good associates. And Boyd stated if his quarterback feels good, it instills perception in these round him.
“So long as that quarterback is assured, he is sitting again there and he is able to make magic and do every part he bought to do to assist us win and lead us, I am all the time going to comply with behind him and do what I can to assist him,” Boyd stated.
Simply gotta imagine!
After the Ravens sport, Boyd famous that different backup quarterbacks have succeeded in recent times. Examples embrace the San Francisco 49ers‘ Brock Purdy and the Minnesota Vikings‘ Joshua Dobbs, who’s on his third workforce this season and not too long ago performed a key position within the Vikings’ win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 10.
Burrow has meant every part to the franchise since being drafted No. 1 total in 2020. However within the aftermath of his harm, the Bengals are proclaiming a perception that they will nonetheless be a playoff contender.
“We have lots of expertise on this roster and this season is much from over,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor stated Friday. “I am excited to see how the blokes reply subsequent week.”
THE CASE AGAINST …
The workforce has struggled with out Burrow
The numbers usually are not in Cincinnati’s favor when Burrow hasn’t been on the sector. Since 2020, the Bengals are 2-5 when Burrow hasn’t began. When earlier Burrow backups Ryan Finley and Brandon Allen took over, Cincinnati averaged 1.33 factors per drive and had a landing fee of 14.7%, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Info. When Burrow is beginning, these numbers jumped to 2.15 factors per drive and touchdowns on 24.5% of drives.
The offense will function with Browning because it did beneath Burrow, Taylor stated. Cincinnati has to financial institution on Browning’s expertise with the coaches and gamers that dates again to 2021 translating into yards and factors.
“I have been getting ready like I’ll be the man for 2½ years right here now in the identical offense,” Browning stated Friday.
The protection has taken a step backward
Even when Burrow had been wholesome, the protection poses an enormous risk to Cincinnati’s postseason hopes. Burrow’s $275 million contract extension and a looming extension for Chase means there hasn’t been as a lot spending on the protection, which has resulted in younger gamers in essential roles.
Whereas gamers reminiscent of cornerback DJ Turner and security Dax Hill have proven glimpses, the unit has been porous as a complete. Cincinnati has allowed the second-most yards per play (6.1) and is twenty third in factors allowed per drive.
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s unit has been a main purpose for Cincinnati’s postseason success over the previous two seasons. However the present iteration of the protection is simply too reliant on turnovers to get stops.
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The schedule continues to be one of many hardest within the NFL
Cincinnati has confronted the NFL’s hardest schedule up to now and the slate would not get a lot simpler. In accordance with ESPN Analytics, as of Friday, the Bengals have the eighth-toughest remaining schedule. And the numbers shifted closely towards Cincinnati after Burrow’s harm.
Cincinnati is projected to be the underdog in six of its remaining seven video games, in accordance with ESPN Analytics. The exception is a Week 14 house sport towards the Indianapolis Colts. The Bengals nonetheless should play the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs on the highway and have three remaining AFC North video games, together with two towards the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even when Burrow had completed the Ravens’ loss wholesome, Cincinnati was going to be outdoors trying in on the playoff image.
Having already performed Thursday, the Bengals will attempt to benefit from the additional relaxation as they put together for a house sport towards the Steelers on Nov. 26. “Clearly, this longer weekend comes at a very good time for us,” Taylor stated Friday. “It is an opportunity to regroup and get wholesome and are available again subsequent week able to assault Pittsburgh.”