The Cincinnati Bengals welcomed the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday, and Joe Burrow decided it was time he cemented his claim as a top-five quarterback in the NFL. Burrow ended the day with 525 passing yards, the most in franchise history.
There was quite a bit of controversy as the Bengals clearly looked to decimate the Ravens and get Burrow over that franchise record and near the NFL record after the game’s result was already decided.
Nonetheless, the Bengals are now one win away from being in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Now 9-6, the Bengals have won two straight and will get the ultra-hot Chiefs at home in Week 17.
With that in mind, let’s dive into where the national media is ranking them prior to Week 17.
ESPN — No. 10 - Up from No. 14
Chase has been the catalyst for a more dynamic offense. At the beginning of the season, he gave the Bengals the explosive plays they were looking for when they drafted him with the fifth overall pick. As teams started to pay him more attention, that opened up areas for other wide receivers to be productive. Specifically, it helped Tee Higgins cross 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. Cincinnati wanted an immediate playmaker when it drafted Chase, and it certainly appears to have that in the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner. — Ben Baby
USA TODAY — No. 10 - Up from No. 13
Meet the first team in NFL history with a 4,000-yard passer (Joe Burrow), 1,000-yard rusher (Joe Mixon) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins) all shy of their 26th birthdays. Looking like they could be kings of the jungle for a minute.
Pro Football Talk — No. 9
Beat the Chiefs, and everyone will be on notice about these Bengals.
Yahoo! Sports — No. 11 - Up from No. 13
I don’t know if Joe Burrow should have been annoyed by Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale saying it was too early to fit Burrow for a Hall of Fame jacket, but Burrow noticed. That seemed to be a reason the Bengals were throwing deep late, trying to get Burrow over 500 yards and rub in a win over Baltimore. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with some good old-fashioned rivalries in the NFL. The league needs more of that sometimes.
NFL.com — No. 9 - Up from No. 12
This was undoubtedly a Big Moment for the franchise. The Bengals were taking control of the AFC North with another vicious blowout of the hated Ravens, and Joe Burrow was closing in on the single-game team record for passing yards. With less than two minutes to play and Cincinnati ahead by 20 points, Burrow connected on a 52-yard strike to Joe Mixon that put him over 500 yards and into the record books. After the game, Burrow was asked if it felt good to deliver a historic performance days after Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said people shouldn’t rush to “buy a gold jacket” for the young Bengals QB. Burrow offered a wry smile and replied, ”Maybe.” This is a bad man.
NBC Sports — No. 8
Joe Burrow has thrown for 941 yards (!) in two games against the Ravens this season. Don Martindale might want to update his list of quarterbacks who deserve the “gold jacket” treatment from his defense.
Sports Illustrated — No. 7
How many MVP awards do you think Joe Burrow will win in his career? I sent out a very scientific poll on Sunday, and one was the winning option (38.7%), beating out zero (37.8%) and more than one (23.5%). One would also be my choice—it’s hard to win more than with so many other talents in the league right. But he’s been a great watch this year, and it would be fun if the Bengals stay hot heading into the playoffs.