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Making the case for Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow as NFL MVP

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has made statement after statement since entering the league as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

The former LSU star outplayed Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in last season’s AFC Championship Game, only to take out Mahomes and Co. once again back in Week 13. It was the continuation of what is now a seven-game winning streak for Cincinnati heading into Monday night’s huge home outing against the Buffalo Bills.

The Bengals find themselves at 11-4 on the season and with a shot at earning home-field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. They need to win out and have Kansas City lose to the Las Vegas Raiders next Saturday.

Even if this doesn’t come to fruition, Monday’s game against Josh Allen and the Bills is yet another opportunity for Burrow to prove he’s among the game’s best.

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Joe Burrow could narrow NFL MVP gap

joe burrow nfl mvp
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Right now, the aforementioned Mahomes is the odds-on favorite to come away with his second career NFL MVP award. For good reason. He continues to dominate at a level we’ve seen from very few in the modern history of the league.

Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns. He’s leading an offense that ranks No. 1 overall in the NFL in scoring at 29.1 points per game. With all of that said, MVP is not a fantasy football award. It literally means “most valuable player.” Burrow can stake claim to at least being in the conversation with a win over a conference-best Bills team on Monday Night Football.

During the Bengals’ current seven-game winning streak, they are averaging nearly 30 points per game. He’s accounted for 19 total touchdowns against six interceptions while completing 69% of his passes.

Five of these seven wins have come against either teams who have clinched a postseason spot or are in the playoff race heading into Week 18. In addition to the aforementioned win over Kansas City, this span has seen Cincinnati win road dates against the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. This can’t be lost within the broader NFL MVP debate.

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Joe Burrow’s chance to shine against elite competition

cincinnati bengals' joe burrow, nfl mvp
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo’s defense heads into Monday Night Football ranked No. 2 in the NFL in points allowed. It has held opposing quarterbacks to 18 passing touchdowns while intercepting 14 passes.

We’ve seen the likes of former Pro Bowlers Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Jackson and Aaron Rodgers struggle big time against this unit throughout the season. Tre’Davious White and Dane Jackson might be the best cornerback duo in the league. Things are seemingly set up for Buffalo’s defense to contain Burrow and Co.

That’s until we realize the duo of receivers Burrow has at his disposal heading into this huge AFC battle.

Despite missing five games to injury earlier in the season, Ja’Marr Chase has caught 79 passes for 960 yards and eight touchdowns. Burrow boasts a 97.8 QB rating when targeting his No. 1 guy. One of the most-underrated receivers in the game, Tee Higgins has hauled in 73 receptions for 1,022 yards and seven scores. Burrow’s passer rating stands at 122.3 when targeting him. That’s absolutely insane.

To put these numbers into perspective, Burrow joins Josh Allen as the only quarterbacks this season with at least 4,000 passing yards, 30 touchdowns through the air and five rushing scores.

Just imagine the scene in Cincinnati Monday night. Burrow outperforms Allen in every way, clinching the AFC North title for the Bengals while remaining alive for the No. 1 seed.

Despite his long odds of coming away with the NFL MVP, Joe Burrow would have to be in the conversation. He’s already taken out Mahomes this season. Duplicating that against an early-season MVP candidate in Allen on national television would add to the resume in a big way.