Back in 2020, there was a lot of controversy over who the best college quarterback was. But, once Joe Burrow ran away with the Heisman and the National Championship, it made the first overall pick a lot more transparent for the Cincinnati Bengals that he was the right pick.
Now, Justin Herbert dealt with many misconceptions entering the NFL about whether or not he was deserving of a top ten pick. The Los Angeles Chargers ended up selecting him with the No. 6 overall pick, and both Burrow and Herbert have proven those decisions were the correct ones.
Herbert has been nothing short of excellent in his young career so far, as has Burrow, and for the first time, Burrow and Herbert will face off in a critical AFC matchup Sunday.
Burrow’s first career start was against the Chargers last season, but Herbert was not the starter yet. Tyrod Taylor had those rights, and the Bengals lost a close game in the fourth quarter due to a missed kick by Randy Bullock.
So far this season, both Herbert and Burrow have put on quite the impressive display, and many include them in the same conversations being the two most successful quarterbacks out of the same 2020 draft class at this point.
Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert square off for the first time
The Los Angeles Chargers sit at 6-5 overall and the current 7th seed in the AFC. The Bengals are 7-4 and are the 5th seed in the AFC. This matchup with the headline the 1 PM EST games on CBS and really should have been flexed into Sunday Night Football, but the NFL went with Chiefs-Broncos instead.
In 11 games this season, Burrow has 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 2,835 passing yards, 69.3 completion percentage, and a 76.8 quarterback rating.
Herbert has 24 touchdowns, 3,230 passing yards, ten interceptions, a 66.0 completion percentage, with a 65.8 quarterback rating.
Like Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen and other quarterbacks in the past who come out of the same class, these two will forever be intertwined and compared regardless of whether there is a rivalry or not. This will be the first of many matchups between these two talented young quarterbacks and will be one you want to tune into.
Both the Chargers and the Bengals are two of the more explosive and talented offenses in the league, making this game even more worth watching. Herbert’s top targets on the outside are Mike Williams and Keenan Allen.
However, Austin Ekeler has presented himself as a part-time receiver with seven receiving touchdowns this season. He has become one of Herbert’s favorite targets out of the backfield and will be the most arduous task for the Bengals’ defense to limit.
Joe Burrow’s top target remains Ja’Marr Chase, but Tee Higgins had a big game last week, hauling in six catches for 114 yards and one acrobatic touchdown grab.
This game will be played in Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium so expect a packed crowd, and the anticipation with certainly be there for these young quarterbacks playing meaningful football in the first week of December with a lot riding on the outcome.
If Cincinnati loses, they will trade places with the Chargers and drop to the 7th seed. On the other hand, if the Bengals can win, it could put them in a position to take a sizable lead for the first wild card spot or atop the AFC North if the Ravens suffer a loss to the Steelers in the 4:25 matchup. Either way you look at it, this game has a lot of playoff implications.