This weekend, two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL faced off in an AFC Divisional Round matchup, where Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals defeated Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. After the game, many fans debated on who would be the better quarterback moving forward. Campus Correspondents Sam Calhoun and CJ Dexter take sides on who they would choose as their franchise quarterback.
Sam: Joe Burrow is off to a phenomenal start to his NFL career, leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988. He has a chance to do that again this year with a rematch against the Chiefs on Sunday. I personally think he was robbed of an All-Pro selection, where Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was assigned to the second team over Burrow. Burrow currently is tied for second-most touchdown passes with 35: the same amount as Josh Allen. The Bengals’ leader has thrown less interceptions and is fifth in passing yards (4475), while Allen is close to 200 yards behind him this season. Burrow has the postseason experience, where he has 1556 career postseason passing yards and nine total touchdowns. Those stats alone make me feel more confident in Burrow over Allen.
CJ: Since 2020, Bills quarterback Allen has grown from a potential bust to a top-four quarterback in the NFL. Over the last three seasons, Allen has thrown for 13,234 yards, ran for 1946 yards, thrown and rushed for 129 total touchdowns and led his team to a 37-12 record with three postseason appearances. Allen has taken a team that made the postseason four times in the franchise’s previous 21 years to the playoffs four years in a row. But in terms of comparing him head-to-head with Bengals star Burrow, let’s take a closer look at the numbers from over the last two seasons.
Allen has the advantage in total yards, total touchdowns and record over Burrow. Both quarterbacks are tremendous arm talents, but Allen’s ability to use his legs to extend plays and be a massive factor in the ground game gives him an element to his game that Burrow doesn’t quite have. Yes, the Bengals have done (almost) nothing but win in the postseason with Burrow under center, going 5-1 over the last two seasons (compared to Allen and the Bills 2-2 record), but only one quarterback has had significant help from their team’s defense over the past two years. Over the last two postseasons, the Bengals’ defense has only surrendered 18.1 ppg in six games, while the Bills have surrendered 29.3 ppg in four games. Allen has played incredibly well in the postseason these last two years, leading his offense to 31.7 ppg and going north of 34 points in three out of four games. Meanwhile, a Burrow-led offense has never scored more than 27 points in a playoff game (averaging 23.8 points per game). Both quarterbacks are on their way to being faces of the league, but the quarterback with more wins, more touchdowns, more total yards and better play in the postseason is the better quarterback. It is only a matter of time before Allen’s trophy case is filled with league MVPs and a Lombardi Trophy.
Sam: When it comes to mobility, I will agree that Allen is much better on the ground than Burrow. However, like you said, the better quarterback will be the one with more wins and postseason success. Right now, that is Burrow. He’s more accurate with his passes than Allen at 69 percent in comparison to 63 percent. I want a quarterback that can lead you to victories when games are down to the wire. According to Pro Football Reference, Burrow has nine career game-winning drives, including five fourth-quarter comebacks and two postseason game-winning drives. That’s over just two seasons, since Burrow was hurt in the first season. Allen has been in the league longer, so he has more game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks with 15 and 11, respectively. All of those were in the regular season, and he is yet to lead his team late in a postseason game to advance.
The point about Allen not having a postseason game winning drive is not a strong indicator of how he plays down the wire. We all remember how well Allen played late in the fourth quarter of the 2022 divisional round vs KC, leading his team down the field to take a three point lead with 12 seconds left. 12 seconds was still somehow enough for Buffalo’s defense to have another postseason meltdown and let Kansas City march down the field to tie the game.
In the last two postseasons (four games), Allen has averaged 313.5 pass yards per game, 45 rush yards per game and three TD passes per game while leading his offense to 31.7 PPG. Burrow, on the other hand, in the last two postseasons (six games) averaged 259.3 pass yards per game and 1.5 TD passes per game, only leading his offense to 23.8 points per game. The numbers speak for themselves. Allen is the better quarterback in the regular season and the postseason. He just hasn’t had nearly the same amount of help from his defense as Burrow.