Bengals lose Joe Burrow for season as AFC playoff race gets another shakeup

    After leaving Thursday’s game with a wrist injury, the Cincinnati Bengals got more bad news regarding starting quarterback Joe Burrow on Friday. 

    The team announced that Burrow is going to miss the remainder of the 2023 season with a wrist injury, delivering another major shakeup to the AFC — and AFC North — playoff race.

    Burrow exited the Bengals’ 34-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night late in the second quarter after struggling to grip and throw a football on the sidelines. It turns out that the injury is a torn ligament in his wrist.

    He was replaced by backup Jake Browning, who will now be the team’s starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.

    The news of Burrow’s season-ending injury comes just days after the Cleveland Browns lost their starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury. Those two developments will cause chaos in what has been an extremely competitive AFC North race. As recently as a week ago all four teams were occupying playoff spots in the AFC, but the injuries to Watson and Burrow could dramatically change all of that. 

    Even with a healthy Burrow, the Bengals were facing an uphill fight in the AFC thanks to their 5-5 record, but having to turn to Browning — who has never started a game in the NFL — could be a decisive knockout punch to their season.

    All of this should make the Baltimore Ravens — currently 8-3 after Thursday’s win — the runaway favorites in the AFC North, while Pittsburgh — sitting at 6-3 and with games against Cleveland and Cincinnati over the next two weeks — might also still find itself in that running. 

    It also continues what has been a brutal year for quarterback injuries. Aaron Rodgers (Jets), Kirk Cousins (Vikings),  Anthony Richardson (Colts) and Daniel Jones (Giants) have also had season-ending injuries. 

    With the Bengals and Browns having to rely on Browning and Dorian Thompson-Robinson to play quarterback for the remainder of the regular season, that could also help open the door for some other AFC teams that are on the playoff bubble, including Houston (5-4), Buffalo (5-5), Indianapolis (5-5), Las Vegas (5-5), the Los Angeles Chargers (4-5) and the New York Jets (4-5). 

    The Bengals have the NFL’s toughest remaining schedule by opponents winning percentage and will have to navigate with a quarterback who has never started an NFL game. 

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