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Bengals News (12/16): Joe Burrow rising the ranks

Joe Burrow is getting a ton of respect from the national media this week.

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San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Bengals Notebook: How Demaryius Thomas influenced the drafting of Ja'Marr Chase
It just so happens that Chase tries to expand on his 1,035 yards (17th best by a rookie since the 1970 merger) and 10 touchdowns (tied for fifth) Sunday when the Bengals travel to Thomas' old stomping grounds a Mile High Sunday (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) barely a week after his sudden death at age 33.

Quick Hits: Joe Burrow rests on Wednesday, optimistic for Week 15 at Denver Broncos
Stoic Joe Burrow said his dislocated throwing pinky feels "good enough," for Sunday's AFC demolition derby game (4:05 p.m.-Cincinnati) in Denver. Considering he sifted the 49ers on 74 percent passing for 348 yards a few days ago, that sounds pretty good.

Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan remembers the late Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas
First of all, every Cincy kid knows rookie tight end Bob Trumpy's 58-yard TD from John Stofa was the centerpiece of the expansion Bengals' first win ever, 24-10, over the Broncos in the Humphrey-Nixon fall of 1968 at Nippert Stadium. Long before University of Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder would shock the establishment at Nippert.

How Injuries Could Impact the Cincinnati Bengals and an In-Depth Look at the Denver Broncos
Get the latest Bengals' injury news, plus Sayre Bedinger of Locked on Broncos stops by to preview Sunday's game in Denver. Listen to Locked on Bengals below and follow on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify, Podbean or wherever you get your podcasts.

Bass column: Cincinnati Bengals’ roller coaster is a Beast, but is it a burden?
How can your Bengals blow out the Raiders and Steelers and then blow up against the Chargers and 49ers? How can your Bengals disappear and reappear from one half to another? Will your real Bengals please show up?

Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates Discusses Potential Game-Ending Interception
"People say it's a 24-hour rule but I still haven't gotten over it kind of," Bates said before Wednesday's practice. "I've probably seen the play probably 100 times now. It's very frustrating, honestly. I did everything right to make that play. I hung on my hash and I knew exactly what was coming. I put it away a little too early. I didn't catch it first. It's very frustrating at a very critical part of the game."

How do the Denver Broncos match up with the Cincinnati Bengals?
The last time the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals played a meaningful game in December DeMarcus Ware ran down A.J. McCarron’s fumbled snap to secure a playoff bid for the No Fly Zone. It’s been mostly down years and rebuilding since, which only adds to the excitement this week. Both Cincy and Denver need a victory to stay alive in the playoff race, and both teams still have a chance at their best season since that 2015 campaign.

Bengals’ Zac Taylor didn’t say anything wrong with viral quote
That “I don’t think anybody wants to play us, quite frankly.” went viral pretty quickly, despite it just being obvious coach-speak. Here is, after all, the head coach of a 7-6 team dropping a quote like that after blowing a 5-2 start to the season and most recently losing two in a row. That head coach is 13-31-1 to date.

‘Who is this animal?’ When Bengals pass rusher Trey Hendrickson flips the switch, he’s a menace to opposing QBs
What does he mean? Well, Hendrickson’s father, Collie, and brother Bo once traveled to Cincinnati to watch Trey’s game and came to his home the day before. It wasn’t long before Trey, normally a loving son and brother, told them to get a hotel room and showed them the door.

Joe Burrow is in a race with Tom Brady for NFL’s highest-graded QB
Brady, the future Hall of Famer, has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on course to defend their Super Bowl title from a year ago. He’s 10-3 with 4,134 passing yards and 36 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

Around the league

Urban Meyer fired as Jaguars head coach after 2-11 start to first season
"Darrell Bevell will serve as interim head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars for the balance of the 2021 season. Darrell succeeds Urban Meyer," Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in a statement. "After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban's tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone. I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.

Frank Gore is zeroed in on boxing and Deron Williams fight, but still harbors Super Bowl dream
The five-time Pro Bowl running back sits down and grabs his phone. It's clear something is bothering him. He scrolls for a minute, then shows me an article featuring the betting odds for the four-round pro boxing fight set to take place Saturday between himself and former NBA star Deron Williams.

NFL QB Index, Week 15: Tom Brady-Aaron Rodgers MVP race? Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert still viable
The pinkie is just fine. Burrow piloted my favorite drive of the season, down seven points with 2:40 to go against San Francisco. Burrow's final two throws in regulation were so good that I wanted Zac Taylor to go for two points because Joe Burrow in that moment could do anything. That is not a Zac Taylor decision, but going run-run-pass once the team entered field goal range in overtime fits right in. Burrow's bad games are never that bad and his good games rival some of the best starts from the big names below. I try to rank these guys based on the entire season, not be a prisoner of the moment. But the tie goes to the guy playing his best lately, like Burrow does, even when his team loses.

Austin Ekeler (ankle) expected to play Thursday night for Chargers vs. Chiefs
Ekeler has sustained more than a few bumps and bruises this season and landed on the team's injury report as questionable to play in the prime-time affair. Barring a setback, the plan is for Ekeler to play against AFC West-rival Kansas City, which currently holds a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the division standings with a month to go.