Joe Burrow Out of the Season, but Here’s What Bengals Need to Do to Stay in the Playoffs Race

Published 11/18/2023, 8:37 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

Joe Burrow was tossing touchdowns and cashing in on a mega deal this season. The Cincinnati Bengals‘ rising star went from rookie vibes to the top-paid maestro in the league, signing a jaw-dropping $275 million contract extension just days before the season kickoff. But here’s the plot twist: it seems like Lady Luck decided to throw a curveball at Burrow. Despite the hefty paycheck, he’s playing a game of sideline shuffle. 

The burning question: Will the Bengals bear the brunt of Burrow’s bench time? The pigskin saga unfolds, and the Bengals are at a crossroads. What’s their playbook to punch that playoff ticket without their golden-armed quarterback? Let’s huddle up and dissect the Bengals’ game plan.

Dance of Dragons: Joe Burrow, Bengals, and the second half surge


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Thursday night’s showdown against the Baltimore Ravens wasn’t exactly a must-win for the Cincinnati Bengals, but let’s face it,  the 34-20 setback turned their playoff path into an uphill battle, especially with their main man Joe Burrow taking a hit that hit hard. 

USA Today via Reuters

The loss left the Bengals at 5-5, 0-3 in the division, and kissed goodbye to any dreams of a third consecutive AFC North crown. The road ahead? A dance of dragons with the Steelers in weeks 12 and 16, and a home turf tango with the Browns in week 18. The cherry on the top? They’ve got the NFL’s Mount Everest as their remaining schedule. Six out of seven opponents have a winning record.


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Adding salt to the wounds, the Bengals’ O-line hasn’t quite hit the high notes they expected, despite snagging Orlando Brown Jr. in the offseason. Their run game has got a Mixon addiction, and the passing game’s been doing the hokey-pokey with Tee Higgins on the injury report. On the defensive side too, the Bengals are playing a game of ‘stop the run’ and it’s starting to feel like a broken record.

Looks like the Bengals’ playbook needs a remix. They have got to shake off that loss like it’s a linebacker on a blitz. Can the Bengals bounce back? Buckle up because the second half of the season is about to get wild!

QB conundrum: Bengals face uphill battle without star signal-caller


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To make it to the playoffs, the Bengals need to sweep those three games against their North rivals, Steelers, Ravens, and Browns. It’s like a turf war, and the Bengals need to come out on top to flex their playoff muscles.

Now, if they handle business against the Colts and Cardinals but stumble just a bit up North, things get wild. They might have to go rogue on the road, facing off against either Jacksonville or bringing the heat to Kansas City. It’s a gridiron showdown, and you know winning on the road ain’t for the faint-hearted.

USA Today via Reuters

In ’88, the Niners pulled off a Super Bowl W after a 6-5 start. And let’s not forget the ’05 Steelers cranking it up with eight straight wins, clinching the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XL after starting 7-5. But here’s the catch. Both those squads had their star QBs calling the shots, something the Bengals are crossing their fingers for. So, can the Bengals pull a rabbit out of the helmet? It’s a long shot, but in the NFL, where every given Sunday is a new chapter, never say never. Time to roll the dice, Cincy–let’s turn this plot twist into a comeback story for the ages!


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Written by:

Jhelum Mehta


One take at a time

"If you stumble, make it part of the dance." While a little out of context from this quote, years back I stumbled across the vibrant dynamics of football, and its Red Army became part of my world. Since then, the Kansas City Chiefs have been the team I find therapeutic solace in.
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Edited by:

Garima Yadav