Football games can be won or lost in different ways. But before the start, we can only weigh the probabilities and speculate on the most important factors.
Before this week Monday Night Football game between the visiting Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns, the factor that seems most likely to determine the winner is how far the Browns’ vaunted pass rush can get to hot Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
The game begins at 8:15 PM EDT on TSN (regular feed, via ESPN) and TSN 3 ( MNF with the Peyton & Eli version, via ESPN 2).
Cincinnati has won four of its last five games to improve to 4-3 after a terrible 0-2 start during which Burrow looked under constant pressure. The third-year QB was sacked 13 times in those season-opening losses to Pittsburgh and Dallas.
Since then? He has been sacked just 11 times in five games.
The extra time he was given to think about receiving options and throwing meant everything to Burrow and the Bengals.
The Browns, meanwhile, ranked just 19thth in sacks, with 14, but Myles Garrett – the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 – is tied for fifth individually, with six sacks. And he missed a game after walking away from his sports car.
Burrow is not as static in the pocket as some make him out to be, Garrett said Saturday: “He gets it out pretty quick and is more slippery than you think he is. He’s no Lamar Jackson, but he might be able to find an escape when you don’t think so (it’s possible). They’ve had trouble maintaining him, generally, but the man himself is as talented as he gets.”
Burroughs won’t break Patrick Mahomes’ NFL record for 10,000-yard rushing record (34 games), but he will have come closer than most. It’s Burrow’s 34th game, and he’s 604 yards short of that five-figure mark — when the league record for passing yards in a single game is 554.
“You hear about it,” Burrow said of the milestone, which was pretty close to matching. “But it doesn’t really affect how you go about your day-to-day work. I am proud of this. (It’s) something that means I’ve played well, for the most part, (in) the early part of my career. Hopefully, I have a long road ahead of me where these aren’t the only things people are talking about.”
One thing Burrow said he’s excited about this game is that he still hasn’t beaten the Browns. He is 0-3 at Ohio State.
His offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said he noticed him last week during practice.
“You can feel it from him,” Callahan said. “Its intensity is heightened and mostly because it’s a big divisional game for us … Those are the games that matter as you go down the middle of the season … You’ve got to get wins in the division if you want to make the playoffs.”
John Kryk writes a weekly newsletter on NFL issues. This is where you can first see his direct picks each week. You can have the newsletter sent automatically to your email inbox on Wednesdays simply by signing up — for free — at https://torontosun.com/newsletters/
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