Joe Burrow to Sit Bengals' Week 18 Game vs. Browns; Brandon Allen to Start

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 5, 2022

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JANUARY 02: Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals will rest Joe Burrow for their regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

The Bengals star told reporters Brandon Allen will start in his place.

Mike Petraglia @Trags

"Anytime you can get a little break at this point of the season, bodies are wearing down... getting my body full strength so I can run around the way I need first week of the playoffs." Joe Burrow <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bengals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bengals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RuleTheJungle?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RuleTheJungle</a>

Cincinnati has already clinched the AFC North, removing the biggest stakes from its Week 18 contest.

The ability to give Burrow a break is a nice luxury for head coach Zac Taylor. The second-year signal-caller limped off the field Sunday, with Allen taking the final two snaps, before Evan McPherson's game-winning field goal in a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17.

Burrow said after the game his right knee was "a little sore" but that the issue was "nothing serious." He added he wanted to exit for precautionary reasons and because the Bengals were only going to run down the clock anyway.

On Wednesday, Burrow continued to allay any fears about his knee and said he would be good to play if the situation required it.

There will probably never be a consensus around whether resting key players in the final week aids or hurts a team in the playoffs. On one hand, getting any extra time off can be good for a player after the grind of the regular season. On the other, it could mean a player loses his usual sharpness.

In the case of Burrow, removing him from the starting lineup seems to be the better route because the worst-case scenario—suffering a serious injury—could take him out of the postseason altogether.

Sunday will see a battle of the backups in Cleveland.

Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed Baker Mayfield will have surgery to repair his ailing shoulder, thus putting Case Keenum in the picture to start against the Bengals.