Sports | January 3, 2022 1:38 pm

Bengals QB Joe Burrow Is Making a Late Push in the NFL MVP Race

Aaron Rodgers is still the odds-on favorite to win, but Burrow has a legitimate case for consideration for MVP

Joe Burrow leaves the field after beating the Kansas City Chiefs 34-31
Joe Burrow leaves the field after beating the Kansas City Chiefs 34-31. Dylan Buell/Getty
Dylan Buell/Getty

On Sunday, rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase continued his dazzling debut season by hauling in 11-of-12 targets for a team-record 266 yards and three touchdowns as the Cincinnati Bengals locked up a playoff spot for the first time in six years with a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Chase was a star — and the guy throwing him the ball was no slouch either.

A college teammate of Chase’s at LSU, second-year quarterback Joe Burrow completed 30-of-39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns in the Week 17 win over the Chiefs and did not throw an interception for the fourth straight week of the season. Burrow, who broke Andy Dalton’s team records for both yardage and touchdowns in a single season in the win, now has 971 yards and eight touchdowns over his last two games and is the only player in the history of the NFL with back-to-back games of 400 yards, 4 TDs and no picks.

The effort, which was especially impressive given Burrow was under constant pressure from Kansas City’s defense for the entire game, was enough to boost the 25-year-old quarterback all the way up to third in the race for NFL MVP with one week remaining in the league’s first 17-game regular season.

Now at +1000 to win the award, Burrow trails only Tom Brady of Tampa Bay (+500) and Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay (+400). Still a longshot to win, Burrow is now ahead of Jonathan Taylor of Indianapolis (+1,600) and Cooper Kupp of the LA Rams (+2,000). As ProFootballTalk points out, Burrow certainly belongs near the top of the MVP ballot, even if his shot at winning the award is Hail Mary.

“He led the Bengals from worst to first after a season that was derailed by a torn ACL that he suffered last November,” per PFT. “He won a much tougher division than the NFC North, arguably the worst in football (but for the presence of the Packers). He swept the Steelers, the Ravens. He beat the Chiefs. (Rodgers wasn’t available for his team’s game against Kansas City.) Burrow has 4,611 passing yards. He’s averaging 8.9 yards per attempt. His passer rating of 108.3 is better than Tom Brady’s (100.5) and not far behind Rodgers’s (111.1).”

The Bengals will face the Cleveland Browns on the road in their regular-season finale on January 9 and Burrow will have one more shot to add to his MVP case. With playoff seeding yet to be decided, Burrow and the Bengals should air it out against their divisional foes in an effort to notch Cincy’s 11th win of the season and possibly pad the sophomore QB’s passing stats.