Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase have the Cincinnati Bengals beaming with confidence

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The Cincinnati Bengals haven't been here in a long time, but they're right where Joe Burrow expected them to be preparing for the AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from LSU wasn't even born the last time the Bengals (11-7) won a playoff game like they did last week against the Las Vegas Raiders. It doesn't change the fact that Burrow says Cincinnati is where it belongs with the Titans (12-5) the next challenge Saturday (3:30 p.m. CT, CBS) at Nissan Stadium.

"The fans were very excited (about the 26-19 win over the Raiders), but I tried to downplay it," said Burrow, 25. "Because this is how it's going to be from here on out. It was a great win for us, but this is now the standard, the bare minimum every year going forward."

The last time the Bengals advanced to the second round of the playoffs was in 1991 after beating the Houston Oilers 41-14. They lost in the second round to the Raiders 20-10.

The last time the Bengals made it past the second round was in 1988, the year they went to the Super Bowl and lost to San Francisco 20-16.

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The franchise's years of futility in the postseason hasn't fazed Burrow, who is armed with a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins with a shot at advancing to the conference championship game.

In fact, Burrow, who tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee at the end of his rookie season in 2021, said the Bengals are just now catching up to where he thought they should be.

"I thought it would happen a little faster to be honest," Burrow said. "I thought it would happen last year. Unfortunately I got hurt; we weren't super good last year. This year, this was the expectation. We had a solid year. Could have won more games than we did, but now we're in the playoffs and anything can happen."

What's happened so far this year is Burrow broke Cincinnati's single-game passing record previously held by Boomer Esiason (490 vs. L.A. Rams in overtime in 1990) by throwing for 525 yards in a 41-21 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 26.

He also set the single-season record with 4,611 passing yards previously held by Andy Dalton (4,293 in 2013).

Ja'Marr Chase set the Bengals' single-season receiving yards record, but came in second in jersey sales at the Bengals Pro Shop.
Ja'Marr Chase set the Bengals' single-season receiving yards record, but came in second in jersey sales at the Bengals Pro Shop.

Shared confidence

Burrow isn't alone in his belief that Cincinnati is poised for a deep run in the playoffs.

"Our confidence is pretty high," said Chase, who had nine catches for 116 yards against the Raiders. "Being next to Joe Burrow, (running back Joe Mixon and receiver Tyler Boyd); those guys are always pumped up, ready to go and calm."

Chase said he and Burrow have been able to carry the success they had together at LSU, where they were part of the 2019 national championship team.

"College is where you have one of your most fun times," Chase said. "You get to meet people for a lifetime. I met Joe in college and I'll know him for a lifetime. He's looking like my brother now. He's helping me grow, I'm helping him grow. We're getting each other better, getting the organization better, getting the team better. Everyone's getting better around us."

A tough task

Staying on his hot streak, Burrow admitted, could be difficult going against the Titans' secondary.

"They're kind of unique," Burrow said. "They play the same coverages of a lot of teams but they play it kind of different ways and they're really, really good at disguising what they're going to be in whether they're blitzing or playing cover three or cover four."

Burrow said the Bengals will have to concentrate on Titans safety Kevin Byard.

"He always seems to be around the ball," Burrow said. "He's a really good player that understands what you're trying to do on offense. He makes plays and shows up on game tape. It's not every week safeties show up on tape."

Burrow is also wary of the Titans' pass rush, which recorded 43 sacks in the regular season. Especially compared to the Titans' defense in 2020, which had only 19.

Cincinnati beat the Titans 31-20 in 2020 in a game in which Burrow completed 26 of 37 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns and was not sacked.

"It's going to be a completely different game from last year," Burrow said. "They're different on defense, we're different on offense. Their defensive front is explosive and aggressive. They get off the ball. You can tell they're well-coached in their scheme."

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase have the Cincinnati Bengals full of confidence

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