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Can the Bengals still make the playoffs if Joe Burrow misses time?

We discuss if the Bengals can still make the playoffs if quarterback Joe Burrow misses any time.

Quarterbacks Joe Burrow #9 and Jake Browning #6 of the Cincinnati Bengals take the field before the start of the Bengals and Baltimore Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium on November 16, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals lost in Week 11 to the Baltimore Ravens. It was an important AFC North matchup that saw the Bengals move to 5-5, firmly in last place in the division. Even worse, starting quarterback Joe Burrow reportedly has a sprained wrist and could miss some time. It’s only Week 11, but are Cincy’s playoff hopes already dashed if Burrow misses time?

Burrow is considered one of the best quarterbacks in the league when he is healthy. He strained his calf in the preseason and re-injured it in Week 2 of the season. Burrow didn’t miss any games because of it, but you could tell he wasn’t at 100%. Now, with the wrist injury, there is concern that Burrow could be sidelined for as little as one week and as much as the remainder of the regular season.

The Bengals turned to backup quarterback Jake Browning when Burrow couldn’t return to the game. He finished 8-of-14 for 68 yards with a touchdown and added 40 yards on four carries. If Burrow misses a lot of time, Cincinnati could turn to the free agent pool of quarterbacks. The Cleveland Browns are also in a quarterback-needy situation and worked out veteran Joe Flacco on Thursday morning. The Bengals could look at wooing Matt Ryan away from the CBS booth, bring back Trevor Siemian or bring in Nick Foles for a workout.

Cincinnati played the first game of Week 11, but the loss has affected their future outlook. They have dropped to +2500 to win the AFC North at DraftKings Sportsbook, with their odds to make the playoffs pulled while we wait on a Burrow update. The Bengals’ next four games are against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings. They end the season with their second game against the Steelers, a road trip to Kansas City and a home game against Cleveland in Week 18.

Obviously, Cincinnati is one of only two teams that have played this week, so the playoff standings will shift. They have the same record as the Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders and Buffalo Bills as of Friday afternoon. The Bengals sit at the No. 10 spot in the AFC playoff rankings but could move up to No. 8 if the Raiders and Bills lose since the Colts are on bye. All of this to say, the Bengals remain in the AFC playoff hunt for a Wild Card spot. If Burrow misses only one or two games, they should still be able to sneak into the playoffs. If he misses more than that, I’d say it’s doubtful they make the postseason and would need a lot to go their way with results from around the league.