The Cincinnati Bengals football team has confounded many critics this season by reaching the Super Bowl.
They weren’t among the favorites at the start of this season and on this website they were actually quite low to even reach the playoffs.
However, some outstanding performances mean that they’ll be facing the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI on February 13. So who is the MVP that has contributed most to this success?
What Do the Pro Football Writers Say?
There was no major surprise when the Cincinnati Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America came together to discuss the Bengals MVP for the 2021 season. They had no doubt that quarterback Joe Burrow had to win this award for his outstanding contribution.
Their vote was unanimous and chapter president Paul Dehner Jr. called it the “easiest decision” in the entire history of the award. As well as his incredible figures – which we’ll look at in a moment – Burrow has also shown tremendous leadership and strength of character in coming back from a knee injury.
Burrow is in his second season with the Bengals, joining as first pick in the 2020 draft after playing his college football at LSU. After an injury-hit rookie season, the decision to pick him has been fully justified.
Yet, the player himself has pointed out that he didn’t want to play QB as a kid. Rather, he wanted to play as a running back or wide receiver. Thankfully for the Bengals, he was convinced to carry on at quarterback.
How Good Has Joe Burrow Been in 2021?
While Burrow hasn’t single-handedly led the Bengals to the Super Bowl, the analysts are united in their opinion that the QB has been by far the single biggest factor in the franchise reaching the season’s defining game.
The season started with Burrow back from injury and he began strongly, earning the AFC Offensive Player of the Week title in week 4 for completing 25 out of 32 passes, passing for 348 yards and two TDs in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He then went from strength to strength as the season progressed. Week 16 saw Joe Burrow hit new heights as he threw for 525 yards, with four touchdowns and 37 passed completed out of the 46 he attempted. This was a new franchise record for passing yards and the fourth highest in the history of the NFL.
The rest of the season saw him carry on catching the eye with amazing figures. He finished the regular season with 4,611 passing yards and 34 passing touchdowns in 16 games, to set new franchise records in these categories. He also came top in the league with a 70.4% completion percentage and 8.9 yards for each attempted pass.
Once the Bengals entered the postseason stage, Burrow helped them to beat the Las Vegas Raiders 26-19. This was the team’s first playoff win since 1990 and they followed it up with a 19-16 win over Tennessee Titans, with Burrow throwing for 348 yards.
The AFC Championship game was a thrilling 27-24 win over the highly-fancied Kansas City Chiefs. This game included a remarkable comeback from 21-3 that was inspired by Burrow, to clinch the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1988 and have them dreaming of winning the trophy for the first time in their history.
Can Burrow Help the Bengals to Win the Super Bowl?
Despite their great form in reaching the Super Bowl, the Bengals are outsiders to win the big game, as the Los Angeles Rams are considered favorites. However, Burrow is among the favorites to be MVP, and it’s clear that an outstanding performance by him could tip the game in his team’s favor.
One area of concern for the team from Cincinnati is in how regularly their QB has been sacked. In fact, in the AFC Championship Game Burrow was sacked nine times, which is the joint highest number of times a QB has been sacked in a playoff off as well as making him the most-sacked QB to ever win a playoff game.
Ja’Marr Chase is one of the few Bengals players to join Burrow on the list of the favorites to win the Super Bowl MVP award. The wide receiver was chosen as the fifth overall pick in the 2021 draft and has gone on to produce an excellent rookie season. Chase racked up 266 yards in week 17, against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is a new franchise record and also an NFL record for a rookie.
It seems clear that the result of the Super Bowl LVI depends largely on the two quarterbacks. If Joe Burrow outperforms the Rams’ Matthew Stafford, then the Bengals could be looking at winning their first Super Bowl. Regardless of how the game finishes, Burrow has done enough to be the clear winner of this season’s MVP award.