CINCINNATI — The Bengals are hoping to beat the Chargers and keep pace in the AFC playoff race on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
As big is this game is for both teams' postseason chances, the quarterbacks are the main storyline going into the crucial matchup.
The Bengals selected Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Chargers took Justin Herbert five picks later with the sixth overall selection.
Both quarterbacks had great success as rookies before Burrow suffered a torn left ACL and MCL in Week 11 against Washington.
The injury derailed what would've likely been a tight Offensive Rookie of the Year race. Herbert won the award and some believe he's the top quarterback to come out of the 2020 draft class.
Burrow's back and has the Bengals in position to make the postseason for the first time since 2015. Herbert's Chargers are also vying for a playoff spot.
So which signal-caller would you pick if you were starting a franchise? Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky shared his thoughts earlier this week.
"Joseph Burrow. This is relatively easy for me," Orlovsky said. "I think the world of Justin Herbert, I think he's going to win an MVP in this league, but... and I've said this many times, ever since I was down on the field to watch that National Championship game and do the megacast for ESPN, I walked away thinking Joe Burrow was different.
"I think Joe Burrow has that old school mindset of 'I want to make you and your fan base feel pain on a weekly basis. Like I wanna be the guy that you all hate because I'm so good.'"
Burrow is second in the NFL in yards-per-attempt (8.4), ninth in quarterback rating (101.6), ninth in touchdown passes (22) and 11th in passing yards.
He also has the Bengals in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
"I did not think he was gonna play this well this year coming off of that ACL," Orlovsky said. "I think he's playing point guard at a remarkable level for this offense. If you look at his ball distribution lately, it's like Tee Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase, (Tyler) Boyd. And I just think he's got that Aaron Rodgers in him, that Tom Brady, that killer mindset, that killer instinct. I'm not saying Justin Herbert doesn't have it, but I think there's guys that come into the NFL that have it at a rare, very difficult to measure level and I think Joe Burrow has that."
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