The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North for the first time since 2015 after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17.
That’s a massive transformation for a team that hasn’t had a winning season in five years.
Several players deserve credit for the Bengals’ rise as legitimate contenders but none bigger than Joe Burrow.
He accepted the challenge of changing the team’s culture from laughingstock to postseason constants.
Joe Burrow is DEALING pic.twitter.com/D3L7EnjYNQ
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) December 26, 2021
The former LSU stalwart is the leader the long-suffering franchise needs.
Those attributes merited him comparisons with arguably the greatest of all time.
Parallels Of Burrow And Brady’s Career
Rex Ryan knew that it would be unfair to compare Brady’s volume of work to Burrow, given the former’s longevity and Super Bowl victories.
It will be difficult for the Bengals’ starter to win seven world titles.
A deep dive into their first two years in the league shows stark similarities.
Don't even think about trying to steal Joe Burrow's Heisman Trophy🏆 pic.twitter.com/biuz4bjh6z
— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) December 8, 2021
The 2000 Patriots, Brady’s rookie year, finished 5-11, while the 2020 Bengals had a 4-11-1 record.
By their sophomore year in the NFL, both Brady and Burrow brought their team to the playoffs.
Injuries also became part of their early careers.
Meanwhile, Burrow’s rookie year was cut short by an ACL and MCL tear.
Joe Burrow is who the Browns thought Baker was gonna be. Swaggy underdog college transfer turn #1 pick who can elevate a franchise.
— Domonique Foxworth (@Foxworth24) January 4, 2022
Their play styles are also eerily similar.
Arm strength isn’t their strong suit, but they can beat opponents with accuracy and sound decision-making.
Brady completed 63.9 percent of his passes in 2001, his first year as the starter.
On the other hand, Burrow’s completion rate in 2020 was 65.4 percent.
Burrow’s Having A Head Start
Finally healthy, Burrow elevated his game a bit further.
Through Week 17, his completion percentage is at 70.4 percent.
He has five games with a 75 percent or more completion rate, yet he leads the league in passes of 50 yards or more.
Burrow failed to throw a touchdown pass in just one game this season.
Bengals QB Joe Burrow smoking a cigar and getting the gat after winning the AFC North: pic.twitter.com/NoVYzjIYjG
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) January 2, 2022
But during his last two games, the Iowa native was throwing bombs all over the field.
The comments of Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale fired Burrow up to shred their division rival for 525 yards and four touchdowns.
A week later, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo alluded to Ryan’s comparison.
As a result, Burrow threw for 446 yards and four touchdowns.
.@danorlovsky7 says Joe Burrow is that guy 😤😤
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 3, 2022
These performances brought Burrow’s season totals to 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns.
During his second year, Brady wasn’t as explosive as the starter, finishing with 3,674 yards and 28 touchdowns.
The Comparisons Are Correct
Only time can tell if Burrow will end up playing 23 seasons or he will win seven Super Bowls as well.
But he and Brady are on the same page by carrying the team on their back.
— xz – Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 31, 2021
Their inspirational leadership brings out the best from their teammates.
If everything goes well, the Bengals may soon have their own Super Bowl title.
It might be a symbolic passing of the torch between quarterbacks with similar tendencies when that happens.