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Bengals could be playoff bound with a win by the Jaguars on Thursday night

If the season ended today, Cincinnati would face the Los Angeles Chargers in the opening round

Syndication: Florida Times-Union
Trevor Lawrence
Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has gotten used to rooting against Trevor Lawrence.

The two faced off in the College Football Playoff National Championship game in 2020 when Burrow was at LSU and Lawrence was the quarterback for Clemson. Burrow came out on top in that one as LSU took home the title by a score of 42-25.

The Bengals selected Burrow with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Lawrence came out in 2021, and was selected No. 1 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Cincinnati and Jacksonville met later that year, and Burrow came out on top again, this time by a score of 24-21.

Thursday night, Burrow and the rest of the Bengals will be pulling for Lawrence and the Jaguars when they square off against the New York Jets. A win by Jacksonville guarantees Cincinnati a spot in the playoffs.

“The goal’s always the division title,” Burrow said in his weekly news conference on Tuesday evening. “Obviously, making the playoffs is great, but that’s not really the goal.”

The Bengals still have a shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but that would require them to win out, coupled with another loss by Kansas City.

“Our goal is to go 1-0 this week,” Burrow said, “and I think the rest will take care of itself from there.”

If Cincinnati does end up playoff bound, as things now stand the Bengals would face the 8-6 Los Angeles Chargers. Coincidentally, the Chargers boast the same record Cincinnati had a year ago at this time.

Los Angeles, led by a smothering defense, squeaked out a 17-14 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Chargers are currently the sixth-seed in the AFC, while the Bengals own the third seed.

Quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw for 313 yards and a pair of interceptions against the Titans, is second in the NFL in passing yards with 4,015 and is consistently mentioned among the top five signal-callers in the league.

Joshua Palmer and Mike Williams lead a talented Los Angeles wide receiving corps with 714 and 693 yards, respectively, and running back Austin Ekeler has been a threat both rushing and receiving. Ekeler has produced nine touchdowns and 692 yards rushing, along with 95 receptions, 635 yards and five scores out of the backfield.

The Chargers’ defense is led by safety Nasir Adderley and cornerbacks Asante Samuel, Jr. And Bryce Callahan. End Kyle Van Noy anchors the defensive front, and tackle Breiden Fehoko has been coming on strong. Los Angeles also features former Los Angeles Raiders and Chicago Bears standout Khalil Mack at the other end.