Why Joe Burrow vs. Patrick Mahomes is NFL's best young quarterback matchup

Heading into Week 13 of the NFL season, the two quarterbacks that will take the field at Paycor Stadium are in the MVP conversation.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is leading the pack as he’s been the league’s best at the position so far this year. But Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has made some noise helping the Bengals to an undefeated record in November.

Mahomes, in his sixth season, has thrown 292 passes for 3,585 yards and 29 touchdowns. His quarterback rating is 77.3 and the Chiefs have the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL (29.6).

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Burrow offered high praise of Mahomes when asked what he likes about the way he plays the game.

“He’s the best right now,” Burrow said. “He’s been playing the best all year. It’s fun to watch him play, he does it a lot of different ways. There haven’t been a lot of people like him to come through the game.”

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Cincinnati’s third-year quarterback is 2-0 against Mahomes, though. In 2021, it was Burrow who showed he was the star of the AFC when it mattered most. The Bengals beat the Chiefs 34-31 on Jan. 2 and then again, a few weeks later to win the AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 30.

The Bengals proved to be the better team a year ago. This year, the Chiefs enter Sunday’s game as a 2.5-point favorite. Kansas City is 9-2 on the season and currently holds the No. 1 spot in the AFC.

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"They're one of the best teams in the league: great quarterback, great defense, playmakers all over the field,” Burrow said. “We know that we're going to have to play them in the playoffs if we want to get to where we want go. So, this is a big game for us, and obviously would love to win it. We'll take it one day at a time, have good practices and go out there on Sunday and put our best foot forward."

Bengals blocking out distractions ahead of matchup

Cincinnati is tuning out the outside noise. Most fans and pundits will praise the Chiefs, rightfully so, for their season so far. But the Bengals would like to remind everyone they aren’t scared to face any team.

Especially on their home turf. The Bengals are playing their best football of the year right now and the offense will get a huge boost as Ja’Marr Chase is expected to make his return against the Chiefs. Chase missed four games with a hip injury but says if all goes well in practice this week, he will be good to go.

Without Chase, the Bengals went 3-1. Cincinnati’s offense ranks No. 4 in passing yards per game (270.8) and No. 5 in points per game (25.9).

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That’s what makes the Bengals such a scary opponent for the rest of the AFC. They played arguably three of their best games without their top offensive player. And now Burrow’s favorite target is coming back.

“He’s one of the best in the league so when a guy like that comes back and enters your offense, it’s going to change the way defense’s play you,” Burrow said of what Chase returning does for his offense.

Burrow is also playing at a high level this season. He ranks No. 2 in touchdowns only second to Mahomes (23), No. 3 in total yards (3,160) and No. 4 in completions (279).

Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd said the matchup between Burrow and Mahomes has the makings to resemble the days of Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady in the AFC.

Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator Brian Callahan coached Manning for several seasons in Denver and agrees these games against the Chiefs are starting to get that feeling. Callahan hopes it works out that way for the foreseeable future because as long as Burrow is playing a top level, the Bengals will always be in the mix.

And that’s what December football is all about.

“I hope both of these quarterbacks keep playing the way they have,” Callahan said. “It’s great for football. They are two really talented competitors. Playing meaningful games in December and January is what it’s all about.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Joe Burrow vs. Patrick Mahomes is NFL's best young QB matchup