Cincinnati Bengal QB Joe Burrow was carted off the practice field on Thursday, scaring the you-know-what out of the entire team and its fan base. But over the course of less than 24 hours the news got steadily better as reports of a knee injury moved to a calf strain.
Let's see what this news does to the Cincinnati Bengals' odds at FanDuel of winning the AFC Championship, and even more importantly, the Super Bowl. It was somewhat surprising to see this morning that FanDuel.com shows Burrow in a tie with Bills' QB Josh Allen and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes as the favorites to win the league MVP.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard didn't seem too concerned about his QB's injury. “I know about calf strains all too well, and they are painful, but they aren’t the end of the world”, said Hubbard.
Burrow has a lengthy history of injuries and health issues, including an ACL injury during the 2020 season, and last offseason, he had to have a ruptured appendix removed. He missed the last 6 games of the 2020 season after a 2-7-1 start to his career. He hasn't missed a game since then as he guided Cincinnati to the Super Bowl the following season (lost to LA Rams), and the AFC Championship last year.
Expectations are high for another stellar season in 2023 with the best odds to win the AFC North (+145), the third-best odds to capture the AFC title (+500), and the fourth-best odds to win the Super Bowl (+1000).
We could learn a lot about the AFC North scenario is the first two weeks of the regular season as the Bengals open on the road against division and state rival Cleveland on September 10 in an early Sunday afternoon start. The following week brings Lamar Jackson and Baltimore to Cincinnati.
As for the preseason sale, the Bengals will face Green Bay on Friday, August 11 in their only home preseason game. Trips to Atlanta and Washington follow.
So, if you're following along, Cincinnati fans have slightly more than 5 weeks to wait between the first and only home preseason game, and the regular season home opener. After the Ravens' game, the LA Rams come to town for Monday Night football before Cincinnati takes to the road for contests at Tenenssee and Arizona.
It's back home for Seattle on October 15th before the Bengals get a rest for week 7.
Cincinnati comes out of that bye week with a tough road trip to San Francisco before welcoming Buffalo to Paycor Stadium for an AFC grudge match.
Week 10, on paper, seems like a walkover opportunity when the Houston Texans come to the Queen City. The Bengals will have to guard against this becoming a trap game as it would be easy to suffer a letdown after battling the 49ers and Bills, and knowing that two division rivals are next up on the agenda. Not only that, but the very next game is a trip to Baltimore on a short week for a Thursday night game. Then, its's back home for the first duel with Pittsburgh 10 days later..
That brings us to week 13 and a trip to Jacksonville for another Monday Night Football game. The Jaguars nearly eliminated Kansas City from the playoffs last year. The betting odds aren't really backing it up, but many prognosticators believe Trevor Lawrence and Company are the top darkhorse favorite in the AFC to make a Super Bowl run. Jacksonville is the prohibitive favorite to win the AFC South, but only has the 8th-best odds to take the entire conference.
The five-week backend stretch run begins with consecutive home games against Indianapolis and Minnesota. The Colts look to be another trap game to avoid, while the Vikings could be in the midst of a great season, or struggling to make the playoffs. Indianapolis has the second-worst odds at claiming the AFC, while Minnesota has the 6th-best odds of capturing the NFC crown.
The Pittsburgh rematch takes the Bengals to Acrisure Stadium, followed by a visit to Arrowhead for a rematch of the AFC Championship game.
The season concludes with Cleveland coming to Cincinnati.
Another playoff run seems highly likely for the Bengals with an over/under play of 11.5 wins.