It’s not the first time Burrow has been forced to play behind a patchwork line, of course: In the 2021 playoffs, the right side of Burrow’s offensive line underwent changes in the AFC Championship Game, with Hakeem Adeniji rotating with Jackson Carman in Cincinnati’s win over the Chiefs. The Bengals triumphed in that game only after surrendering nine sacks against the top-seeded Titans in the Divisional Round, a contest the Bengals won on a game-winning 52-yard field goal converted by then-rookie kicker Evan McPherson.
The Bengals have been here before, but losing both tackles and their best guard will make the challenge even greater against a Bills defense that finished the regular season ranked 13th in sacks. Buffalo also lost premier edge rusher Von Miller to a knee injury late in the campaign.
Despite Burrow’s past postseason success while under constant pressure, sacks could play a significant role in determining the winner of this game. In games in which Burrow has been sacked three or fewer times, he owns a 22-3 record and a 108.2 passer rating. When the sack total reaches four or more, he’s 4-8, but still owns a 93.8 passer rating and a 18-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Super Wild Card Weekend produced one of the latter scenarios. With Collins and Cappa sidelined, Baltimore sacked Burrow four times and held Cincinnati to 4.3 yards per offensive play, but the Bengals’ defense produced a key takeaway that proved to be the difference in the 24-17 outcome.
The Bengals will hope Burrow can work more of his magic while relying on the likes of Adeniji and Carman at tackles, and veteran Max Scharping at right guard. Buffalo will aim to make Cincinnati’s weakness its downfall.