You would be wrong if you thought that the Bengals would not remain confident without Joe Burrow. Cincinnati is excited for the matchup with the Steelers on Sunday, and their confidence surrounds backup quarterback Jake Browning, who will lead the team the rest of the way.
Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase put the Bengals locker room and Steelers on notice. He said there are many doubters around, but he plans on being the same person he has been all season. Chase believes there will be a show from the Bengals’ offense against Pittsburgh’s defense.
“We’ll show y’all this week,” Chase said. “Wait for the show.”
Tee Higgins will be out, as will Burrow. The Bengals’ No. 2 receiving target behind Ja’Marr Chase, Higgins posted back-to-back 1,000-yard season in 2021 and 2022, but has caught just 27 passes for 328 yards in a season that has been hampered by multiple injuries.
With Higgins out, Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati’s slot receiver and usual third target, has seen a bigger role. He’s second on the team behind Chase with 47 catches for 439 yards and two touchdowns. Veteran Trenton Irwin and Andrei Iosivas, a rookie from Princeton, have served as Cincinnati’s third and fourth receivers with Higgins out. Iosivas has also been bothered by a knee injury, but is expected to play.
Burrow will miss the rest of the 2023 season after tearing a ligament in his wrist. Cincinnati’s first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft out of LSU, Burrow won NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2021 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2022. Burrow had completed 244 of 365 passes for 2,309 yards, 15 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 91.0 passer rating before the injury this season. He dealt with a calf injury from training camp that limited him in the early going of 2023. Burrow had a 100.8 passer rating in 2022 and a 108.3 rating in 2021, as the Bengals made it all the way to the Super Bowl.
Still, Chase is confident the Bengals can make some noise against the Steelers. For Pittsburgh to stay in the playoff race, this feels like a must-win for them. The remaining schedule is not hard, but they have to take care of business, and after firing the offensive coordinator Matt Canada, they hope that will come alive this week.