What’s going on around the AFC North? The NFL’s most competitive division will heat up even more heading into Week 7. With the Cincinnati Bengals on a bye week, can Joe Burrow get close to back healthy? The Baltimore Ravens look to silence the roar of the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns look to score road victories without key players.
AFC North hype: Joe Burrow MVP stock on the decline through first 6 weeks
After a 1-3 start, the Bengals are sitting at 3-3 heading into the bye and looking like a team that is ready to make some noise in the AFC.
The slow start was expected given the injury Joe Burrow suffered during the start of the preseason, which shows how important the start quarterback is to the team. Still not fully health, Burrow’s MVP stock has plummeted through the first six weeks of the season, but should the star quarterback be counted out when all is said and done?
In ranking the top candidates to win the NFL MVP award, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin has Burrow on the outside looking in due to that lingering calf injury:
“A lingering right calf injury hindered Burrow's effectiveness through six weeks, which is why Cincinnati could not score a touchdown in two of its losses and is averaging under 17 points per game. Burrow hasn't been able to connect on deep balls to Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins the way we've grown accustomed to and has seen his yards per attempt drop from 7.4 (a top-10 ranking last season) to 5.3 (the worst mark among QBs who have started at least two games this season) in 2023.”
With the offense struggling to score, the Bengals’ defense has stepped up which will benefit the team as the season moves forward. It will also make them a complete team once Burrow is back close to 100 percent and find that lethal connection to Chase and Higgins that made the Bengals offense so dangerous.
In other words, don’t count out Burrow when all is said and done, the Bengals have been a team over the last couple seasons who get stronger as the season moves forward, which is a dangerous sign for the rest of the AFC North.