Joe Burrow Vs. Josh Allen Comparison Ahead Of NFL Divisional Round

Despite both Josh Allen and Joe Burrow being top 5 quarterbacks in the AFC and NFL, the two have yet to face off in a full game. We have seen both the rivalry between Allen-Mahomes and Burrow-Mahomes develop, but could Burrow-Allen be the best rivalry of all?

For this matchup we are going to take a deep dive into the careers and player profiles of Joe Burrow and Josh Allen to see what makes these quarterbacks elite.

Josh Allen Career Profile

Josh Allen was drafted two years prior to Burrow in 2018 and unlike Burrow, was a controversial prospect. Most recognized his talent, but criticizedBuffalo Bills his inaccuracy, the level of competition he faced in college, and considered him a project. Still, the Bills traded up to pick Allen 7th overall and he’s proven to easily be the best quarterback from that draft.

Allen’s first two seasons were definitely not the smoothest. While the Bills have made the playoffs every year since his second season, he definitely had to prove himself a lot more than Burrow to become a top QB. It wasn’t until his “breakout” 2020 season during his 3rd year that the national media was finally forced to acknowledge the player he had become. In that 2020 season, he broke out with career highs in yards and touchdowns throwing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. He also led the Bills to the AFC Championship game for the first time since this millennium!

Joe Burrow Career Profile

Joe Burrow in many ways fulfills the model of a prototypical quarterback. In his last season in college, he won the Heisman Trophy and led his team to the College Football National Championship. His success, pinpoint accuracy, and intelligence as a passer made him the obvious and consensus choice for the #1 pick in the 2020 draft.

Cincinnati BengalsIn his rookie season he showed great promise on a developing team before he tore his ACL. His injury was certainly the biggest challenge he’s faced thus far in his career, but he conquered it winning Comeback Player of the Year and taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 30 years the following season.

Beyond his exceptional abilities as a quarterback, Burrow’s leadership sets him apart from many other players. He exudes the “Joe Cool” aura famed by 49ers legend Joe Montana and casually smokes a cigar after a win like he’s Len Dawson. He exudes calm and confidence on the field and it’s evident in the entire Bengals organization. The Bengals transformed from one of the sadder franchises to a team that looks like it’s going to challenge for the Super Bowl annually. And that would not have happened without Burrow at the helm.

Comparing the Two

When it comes to similarities between these star passers, Allen and Burrow put up remarkably close passing statistics on the year. Both Allen and Burrow threw for 35 touchdowns on the season, while Allen had two more interceptions than Burrow, throwing 14 to Burrow’s 12. Burrow threw for about 200 yards more and had a higher completion percentage, but Allen contributed more to his team’s rushing performance.They also share traits of being great leaders and represent the cities they play for very well. Allen and Burrow are both beloved by their respective fanbases and great at quietly leading their teams and holding the respect of their teammates and coaches.

Aside from these, they are quite different as individual players. Josh Allen is a one man band for the Buffalo Bills. Allen certainly plays more of a backyard, gunslinger football style. He is incredibly strong armed and is always firing the ball or shooting lasers across the field, making the most impossible throws appear effortless.

Neither Burrow or Allen have had reliable run games this season, but Allen’s running ability adds a tremendous element to the Bills offense. For the second year in a row, Allen contributed about 760 rushing yards on the season. And he isn’t the kind to scramble and slide either. He has no fear when it comes to hurdling a defender or diving for that first down marker. Allen knows no quit on a play, which sometimes gets to trouble when he throws an interception or fumbles.


In his past two seasons, Allen became more efficient after receiving criticism for playing reckless his first couple of seasons. He limited turnovers and exceeded in playoff time, only throwing one playoff interception prior to last week’s game. He does want to reduce the turnovers, but Allen has also made it clear that aggressiveness is part of his game and he is not going to become conservative just to avoid throwing a pick.

Joe Burrow is more of the traditional QB or field general. He doesn’t fit into the dual threat mode, but can run or evade a sack when necessary and is instead compared to great passers like Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. While Allen’s playmaking excites, it’s the accuracy, confidence, and reliability of Burrow that’s every coach’s dream. Even without the strongest arm, he frequently drops deep balls perfectly in the hands of his defenders. He not only led the NFL in completion percentage last season, but also led the league in deep passing touchdowns in 2021 as well. He may not have replicated those same numbers this season, but has also overcome the Super Bowl hangover and led an 8 game winning streak going into the playoffs.

Burrow is also a natural whizz on the field. His incredible accuracy and decision making can largely be credited to his ability to read defenses and have great perception of the game. While it certainly helps to have Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins out wide, he has also overcome some horrible offensive line play. It’s a testament to his cool and dedication that he takes this team so far even with little protection. From his fashion, accidentally wearing his teammate’s jersey, and comparisons to Joe Montana, Burrow can pull off anything–and that starts with his highlights on the field.

Who Has the Edge Sunday?

This is easily the best quarterback matchup of the weekend and the hardest game to predict. Normally the Bills home field advantage would easily favor Allen and the Bills, but Burrow thrives as the underdog and had no problem winning on the road last season to advance to the Super Bowl. The weather forecasts an 80% chance of an inch of snow, but Burrow embraces any challenge.

Even so, I’m giving the slight edge to Allen. If he can secure the football a little more, I predict he will make too many game changing plays and just win over the Bengals.

A UCLA graduate, Eva is an experienced football writer who specializes in NFL game analysis and weekly storylines. In her free time you can usually find her cheering on the 49ers or watching the latest Josh Allen highlight clip.

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