Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow exuded confidence following the team's wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, telling reporters that expectations are rising and the organization's new standard is to advance past early-round playoff games. A natural attitude for a player who competed for championships in college.
The former first-overall pick is proving to be a franchise-altering quarterback. He helped the Bengals snap the NFL's longest drought without a playoff win, setting up a divisional round battle against the top-seeded Tennessee Titans. Burrow doesn't seem to be afraid of the moment, and his leadership traits are familiar to Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin.
"I played with a guy named Troy Aikman who had that kind of willpower, that kind of directness, and that kind of leadership," Irvin told The DA Show on Wednesday. "We're talking about the Cowboys. But remember, when Troy and I came in, we went through 3-13 and 1-15 seasons before we turned it around. That's exactly who Joe Burrow reminds me of. A guy who you knew, when you picked him, sooner or later, he's going to help us win or make us win."
Burrow's offensive unit was efficient against the Raiders, as he orchestrated six scoring drives and completed 24 of 34 passes for 244 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Although the Bengals were the better team from start to finish, they were aided by some questionable officiating late in the second quarter.
On a 3rd-and-4 from the Raiders' 10-yard line, Burrow scrambled to his right and threw across his body to connect with Tyler Boyd in the end zone. The play was controversial, since the NBC broadcast picked up a referee blowing his whistle shorty after Burrow's throw and before he stepped out of bounds. The play wasn't reviewable, but by rule, it should've been negated.
Cincinnati and Tennessee are scheduled to kick off at 4:30 ET on Saturday. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the underdog Bengals currently have a 34-percent chance to reach the AFC title game and just an 8-percent chance to reach Super Bowl 56. With a win this weekend, they'll face either the Buffalo Bills or Kansas City Chiefs in their first title game since 1988.
The entire NFL conversation between Irvin and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.