Joe Burrow injuries
The biggest reason why the Bengals missed the playoffs this year had to be due to the injuries Joe Burrow suffered throughout the season. On the second day of training camp, he went down with a tweaked calf, which kept him out for the rest of training camp and all of preseason.
Burrow managed to be ready for the season opener but he didn't look anything like his normal self. It was clear that the calf was bothering him and the Bengals suffered as a result, ending up with a 1-3 record through the first four weeks of the season.
While Burrow's calf ultimately got better, another injury hit the former number one overall pick and this time, it ended his season. At that point, the Bengals were 5-4 and firmly in the playoff picture when they headed to Baltimore for a key AFC North showdown.
Burrow went down in the first half and didn't return for the rest of the game. The following day, fans learned the heartbreaking reality that Burrow had a torn ligament in his wrist and would be out for the season. It felt like that was the end of Cincinnati's Super Bowl and playoff hopes this season but Jake Browning ended up helping the team get to an 8-6 record.
From there, however, the wheels fell off. Had Burrow been healthy, the Bengals still might not win the AFC North due to how tough it was this season but they likely win one or two more games with him out there instead of Browning.
Burrow will be back in 2024 but the fact of the matter is that he's now had two season-ending injuries in his young NFL career. When he's healthy, Burrow is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and the Bengals are a Super Bowl contender. Burrow staying healthy will also be even more important now that he's been paid like a franchise quarterback.
Here's to hoping for a healthy Joey Franchise in 2024.