Zac Taylor isn’t backing down against Cleveland in Week 18

Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals are resting Joe Burrow for Week 18’s season finale, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving the Cleveland Browns a freebie.

Burrow left at the very end of Week 17’s game with a minor knee injury (to his right leg, not the leg he tore his ACL), and many wondered if he would play against the Browns.

Burrow said himself he is healthy enough to start on Sunday, but coach Zac Taylor ultimately made the executive decision to sit him.

In a Wednesday press conference, Taylor gave his reasoning:

"“I can’t make a prediction on the amount of starters, but I can certainly say for Joe [Burrow] that we’ll rest him this week and make sure that he’s 100 percent ready to go. I know he’s felt good and can play if needed, but I just made the decision that we’re going to rest him this week.”"

Taylor added, “You never know what can happen in these games.”

Against a dominant Browns pass-rush headed by Myles Garrett, Taylor may be making the most logical choice. If Burrow were to play in Week 18 and something happened to him, Cincinnati’s playoff hopes would be over.

Besides, the Bengals are already in the postseason. They could still nab the top AFC seed, but that would require the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs to lose, which feels unlikely.

The Bengals are nothing without their star QB, so Taylor is just playing it safe by starting backup Brandon Allen instead.

Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor explains decision to sit Joe Burrow for Week 18

Taylor emphasized that this was still a game the Bengals very badly wanted to win, though. Even with Allen under center, Taylor believes this team has what it takes to potentially go 6-1 in the AFC North.

"“We’re trying to win this game. We need to beat Cleveland. That’s what we expect from the players’ performances and our performance as the coaching staff…We lost to this team earlier this year, and we haven’t forgotten that. We want to finish this season on a good note.”"

When asked whether Ja’Marr Chase would play on Sunday, Taylor said, “Potentially.”

The rookie wideout could get a much-needed break, joining Burrow on the sidelines, or he could look to add more receiving yardage to his record-breaking totals.

The last time the two teams met, Burrow threw two game-changing interceptions that Cleveland took full advantage of. This time around, Taylor is advocating for increased ball security.

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Can Brandon Allen lead the Bengals to victory in his first start of 2021? We’ll find out.