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How the Cincinnati Bengals Flipped the Switch

Examining how the Cincinnati staff got back to basics by letting Joe Burrow cook, reopening the door for another run to the Super Bowl.

Earlier this season, the Cincinnati Bengals looked like a shell of themselves amid a Super Bowl hangover of sorts and lingering concerns about Joe Burrow and their offensive line. Now, it’s safe to say they’ve officially flipped a switch, winning five straight games to reach 9-4 and retraining their eyes on an AFC North championship and another run at glory.

As skeptics asked questions about Burrow, many of their concerns were ultimately valid — he turned the ball over five times in the first two games of the season, while the O-Line allowed 13 sacks.

In the 10 games since, the 26-year-old star has committed only six giveaways and taken 19 total sacks compared to 348 pass attempts.

Let’s talk about how this happened.

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What changed with the Cincinnati Bengals?

After the disappointing 2-3 start, Cincy revamped their offense and gave Burrow more control to make adjustments. Quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher and Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan recognized bad habits forming — an offensive philosophy overwrought with micromanagement, for instance — and instead gave the reins over to their superstar. Since then, the Bengals have the second-best record in the league (7-1) and have gone from disappointing enigma to renewed Super Bowl contender.

For some further reading, check out what Marc Trestman wrote over at The 33rd Team about how Burrow’s dropbacks and footwork have improved.

Joe Burrow’s Stats and NFL QB Since Week 5
  • Touchdowns: 19 (No. 1)
  • Yards: 2,586 (No. 1)
  • Yards/game: 287.3 (No. 1)
  • Completion %: 70% (No. 1)

Given how well Jalen Hurts, Josh Allen, and Patrick Mahomes have played, it’s unlikely that Burrow wins MVP — but he absolutely should be part of the conversation.

Currently playing on a rookie scale salary of just $8.9 million, he’s eligible for an extension this offseason, with the current QB market indicating that he could absolutely become the second-highest-paid player in the league with a deal hovering around six years and $262 million depending on the growth of the NFL salary cap.

Injuries

This group has been banged up pretty much all season long; things came to a head after Week 8 when 14.3% of the Bengals’ salary cap spending was sidelined, including WR Ja’Marr Chase and CB Chidobe Awuzie. Chase has since returned, but Awuzie remains out. In the past two weeks, the injury bug has affected top pass-catchers in Tee Higgins (hamstring), Tyler Boyd (finger), and Hayden Hurst (calf).

Given that this team nonetheless owns the AFC’s best active win streak, the adjustments they’ve made are all the more meaningful.

Bengals Betting Odds and Insights

All odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook

  • The Bengals are currently the league’s best team against the spread at 10-3.
  • Before the season, they were +2100 (11th) to win the 2023 Super Bowl.
  • Through 14 weeks, they’re +1000 (6th) to lift the Lombardi Trophy.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a former Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.