Bengals fans will get some extra football this season.
For the first time since 2015, Cincinnati is heading to the playoffs after securing the AFC North division crown last week. He now has only one game left in what has been a magical 2021 campaign for a team that finished in fourth place for three consecutive seasons. That game is another clash against the Browns, rivals of the AFC North.
Since the team has already secured their position in the playoffs, the Bengals will be absent from several starters Sunday in the final showdown of the regular season.
Sporting News looks at who will be sitting against the game and why Cincinnati is making this decision.
Why is Joe Burrow out against the Browns?
The most notable idle in the game will be Burrow. Burrow, a candidate for MVP this season, has been instrumental in leading the Bengals to this change, particularly in the last two games, as he has combined to complete 78.8 percent of his passes for 971 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. . Overall this year, he completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 34 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 4,611 yards.
However, the Bengals are now looking at the bigger picture. Burrow is hands down the most important piece of his offense, having already been sacked in the league 51 times this season. He’ll face a Browns team that features Myles Garrett, one of the league’s best pass-rushers, and a team that overall has 39 sacks on the year.
There’s also the fact that last week, on one of the game’s closing plays, Burrow hurt his right knee, further exacerbating an injury he suffered for the first time in Week 13 against the Chargers. Last season, he was limited to just 10 games after he underwent season-ending surgery on his left knee to repair a torn ACL and ACL.
“I can certainly say for Joe that we will give him a break this week and make sure he is 100 percent ready to play,” Taylor said during his press conference Wednesday. “I know he felt good and that he can play if he needs to, but I just made the decision that we are going to rest him this week.”
In Burrow’s place, the Bengals will start backup Brandon Allen, who started five games for the Bengals last season after Burrow’s injury. In those five games, he was 1-4 with a 63.4 percent completion percentage, five touchdown passes and four interceptions with 925 passing yards.
The Bengals still have the potential to move into second place in the playoffs, but it would require the Titans to lose to the Texans on Sunday, in what would be a huge surprise, and for the Bills to secure the AFC East with a win against the Jets. and move the Patriots away from the divisional crown. Given that Cincinnati will most likely finish No. 3 or 4 seed and host the first round of the playoffs no matter what, the incentive to play to seed shouldn’t be that high.
There’s also the fact that much of the field remains unresolved, and the Bengals could face any of the seven playoff teams that are still on the playoff scene and have not secured the division title.
Who are the Bengals resting against the Browns?
The rest of the headlines, however, remain a bit unsure. Taylor said during his press conference that the team hasn’t had too many in-depth conversations about which starters, if any, will be out of the game beyond Burrow.
However, there are some that have already been ruled out of the game. Running back Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID-19 and while he could technically get off the list in time for the game, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he will not play on Sunday.
Cincinnati will also not have left guard Quinton Spain, who was not only added to the COVID-19 roster, but also suffered a sprained ankle injury that knocked him out of the Week 17 showdown with the Chiefs. However, Taylor said during his press conference that he did not anticipate keeping him out for long.
Taylor also said there is a chance rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase will rest Sunday.
There were other Bengals placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the week, and their status remains unclear on whether they will play. Among them were safety Vonn Bell, defensive end Trey Hendrickson and center Trey Hopkins.